Heart of Thorns book cover

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAteeChildren Shouldn't Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee
Published by Martina McAtee on August 31, 2015
Pages: 510

17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

I hate to be so blunt, but Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was a mess. And I’m not just talking about the unlikable characters, and agonizingly slow and boring story-line. This book needs at least one more round of editing.

I understand that no book is perfect, and it matters not that this book was self-pubbed vs. boasting a big name publisher. The majority of books I’ve read, even ones from fancy-smancy publishing houses, have had at least one error, a missing comma, a missing or excessive space, or even a word that got tagged accidentally with an extra letter, making it the incorrect word. It happens and it’s no biggie. However, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things isn’t a no-biggie book. It’s riddled with incorrect words, and so many words are missing spaces. I lost track of how many times the first word of a new sentence was attached to the period of the last sentence.

With the exception of Mace, who is the guarded, broody, bad boy I always fall for, I could care less about this book’s characters. They either annoyed me, or lacked depth. Tristin was quite frankly, a cranky bitch who made the rest of the characters, and myself, miserable. The majority of Belle Haven lost at least one or more parents in a freak accident that took place a decade ago, yet Tristin acts like her life is the worst. She feels undesired physically, even though her friend and admirer, Quinn, is always there, telling her how beautiful she is, and going to great lengths to please her. Tristin acts like she’s the weakest in the group, because she doesn’t have an active supernatural ability like her pack members, but they respect and in some cases, fear her and her physical ability to beat the sh*t out of you. She constantly complains about the girly-girls and the drama they cause, yet she’s the most dramatic of the bunch. It was maddening.

Even though the book is narrated by Tristin, Kai and Ember, I felt like it was focused mainly on Ember, which was unfortunate, because she had no substance. She was raised by a verbally abusive father, and shunned by her peers, which gave her a tough outer shell and sense of self-preservation. However, the moment she’s uprooted to Belle Haven, she devolves into a delicate flower that sits around while her new family and friends protectively orbit around her. They treat Ember like a damsel in distress, and Ember lets them. Where the heck did her tough resolve go?! I’ve never seen a character devolve so quickly and unexpectedly. The whole thing disregards all her childhood tribulations and accomplishments.

I think the author made a mistake by focusing mostly on Ember and then Tristin, when they should have focused on enjoyable and interesting characters like Kai and Mace. I was invested in both, because their funny and smart and had actual, interesting story-lines.

So yeah. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was not my cup of tea. It wasn’t ready to be published, and the characters were either stab-worthy, or underutilized. Belle Haven was a hidden town full of supernatural beings which sounded so cool, but I couldn’t even enjoy that unique element because I couldn’t get over hating half the characters.