Book Review: Valentine

By: Jodi McAlister
Published By: Penguin Teen Australia
Publication Date: February 1st, 2017
Page Count: 395
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

Happy Valentine's Day! I couldn't think of a more appropriate title to review today than Valentine, a new, Australian fantasy novel set in rural New South Wales.

Four friends all born on the same day - Valentine's Day. Well, friends might be stretching it a bit for some of them. Pearl and Marie are friends, for sure. And Pearl is madly in love with Cardy. But she can't stand Finn Blacklin. So she's not at all pleased when it's announced that they're both school captains. But school politics and petty squabbles fade into insignificance when people start going missing.

One of these four teenagers isn't human. One is the Valentine, a fairy changeling swapped at birth with a human baby. And now the fairies want him or her back. With the Seelie and Unseelie Courts fighting to find the Valentine first, Pearl and Finn are forced to work together to save their friends, and themselves.

Oh, how I love this book. I loved Pearl's voice from the very beginning. She is witty and smart and full of asides, which I love. When on the second page there was mention of Fruity Lexia (for those who have never been an Australian teenager, this is a very sweet and cheap white wine usually sold in casks, or boxes) I knew Pearl and I were going to get along swimmingly.

And Finn - annoyingly handsome and arrogant, he is exactly what Pearl doesn't want. Although her subconscious seems to be telling her otherwise. The sexual tension between the two of them is delicious, and it's very much a case of wanting them to either kiss or kill each other at some points.

Contrary to what the title would have you believe, this isn't really a love story. It's a fantasy murder mystery with some sizzling chemistry thrown in. 

Pearl lives with her older brother and sister who have taken care of her since her mother's death. Disey (Paradise) and Shad (Shadow) might be unconventional guardians, but they take their roles seriously and their love for Pearl is never in doubt. The relationship between the three of them was very realistic and lovely to read.

The fairies are largely in the background, and don't really appear (in human form) until quite late in the book, but their menacing presence is felt throughout, and the book is suitably chilling in parts. There is no Tinkerbell here, these are truly scary Fey.

This is intended to be the first in a series of four, but it is self contained and could happily be read as a standalone, although I'm willing to bet once you read it you'll want to know what happens next. This compares really well to other contemporary fairy stories such as The Iron Fey series, and I would recommend it to those who enjoyed those books. The writing was so good that I actually had to stop and check whether it was written in the present tense (I'm not a huge fan of present tense - it's often done poorly and pulls me out of the story, but this was done brilliantly).

I read this in two days, forgoing sleep to get through it, because I just had to know how things would play out. I definitely have theories about what will happen in the coming books, but I shall just have to wait and see.

A perfect Valentine's Day read.

Valentine is the first in a smart, witty and page-turning YA series with a paranormal twist for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.

Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her. 

Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too. 

Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . . 


  1. OOoh nice! I soooo want to read this one! Nearly forgot about it as it slipped my mind! Hoping the Book Depository can ship it as I do remember not being able to find it to preorder from Amazon! Glad to hear it was excellent! Great review!

    1. It's definitely available on Book Depository, so hopefully they can get it to you. I hope you manage to get a hold of it! I'm looking forward to the next one.


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