Absolution tells the story of a set of immortal triplets–Chris, John, and Randy–whose purpose is to save humanity. As Elementals, they each have a particular gift with the elements of earth, fire, and water, and for years they have been training so that, when the time comes, they will be able to protect the world from the Ultimate Evil. That’s pretty much all they know at this point, after having been mentored (and significantly sheltered) by their Guardian Dominic for the last 25 years.
While the story starts in New York City, it’s clear that city life comes with too many temptations for a group of attractive 20-somethings with powers, so Dominic sends them to a remote town in North Dakota–only, that’s where the real temptation begins: with a girl named Joanna McNamara. Shortly after arriving at their new location, Chris emerges as the central character. He’s broody, philosophical, and pragmatic–ever questioning why humans are worth saving. He’s been instructed that human emotions like love are simply lies, but a run-in with Joanna changes his entire worldview. He knows that a relationship with Joanna is forbidden, but his feelings for her threaten to overtake his loyalty to the powers that be. Time is running out as the Ultimate Evil draws near, and Chris must choose: love or duty.
Absolution has all the makings of a young adult bestseller–supernatural mystery, sexy immortal beings, forbidden love–but it’s not quite there yet in terms of execution. The main characters (Chris and Joanna) aren’t exactly likeable. I found myself more interested in side characters like Vic, Joanna’s sister and the town’s first female sheriff, and Joanna’s scorned ex-boyfriend, who now manages a grocery store. Additionally, the story suffers from a lot of unnecessary exposition and clunky dialogue–especially when it comes to the romance. Also, as someone who has read a lot paranormal romance novels–both young adult and adult–it’s confusing to me who the intended audience is. It very much reads like a young adult novel (i.e. PG), but the characters are in their mid-20s–which makes them difficult for young readers to relate to.
That said, the premise has a lot of potential. Book one is extremely readable and well-paced, and the worldbuilding occurs in just the right doses. It’s worth emphasizing, as well, that this is author Rachelle Storm’s debut novel, and I’m confident that she’ll continue to hone her skills as she releases additional books in what is sure to be a series worth following.