Broken Circle by J.L. Powers and M.A. Powers


Akashic Books/Black Sheep imprint.

Coming October 3, 2017

“The Powerses’ worldbuilding and writing will keep [readers] hooked. They will find themselves questioning what is fact and what is fiction and cheering Adam on as he journeys in this new, strange world. A gripping, philosophical paranormal thriller.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In this intriguing tale of life and death (literally, there are soul guides and a grim reaper), siblings J. L. and M. A. Powers explore the intersections of fear and power in relation to limbo, as Adam and his newfound friends try to become everything they are supposed to be . . . [This] will keep readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more—which is good, considering this is the first of a series.”—Booklist

“Fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare will enjoy this series starter.”—School Library Journal

“Adam’s ‘nightmares’ are so amped up that they begin to reveal to him truths about his parentage, and the mantle that has been placed upon his shoulders by his father, a grim reaper. There are so many other questions he wants answered and consequentially, he is shipped off to a ‘rehab’ which is actually the citadel for ‘soul guides.’ Teen and adult fans of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and the Mortal Instruments [series] will find Broken Circle a tight competitor for the new most addictive paranormal read.”—Jilleen More, Square Books (Oxford, MS)

“Adam can’t even grow a man beard yet, but he can do something his friends can’t do—go to Limbo and back. Prepare to root for him as he makes new friends, discovers who he is, and saves a few souls in the process. This is a fast-paced, page-turning story!”—Skila Brown, author of Caminar

“With a perfect balance of real-world and mythical, Adam’s story explores life, death, and everything in between. Anyone looking for a thoughtful take on life’s big questions will find it here, paired with fresh details, a fast- moving story, and bold world building.”—Amy Rose Capetta, author of Entangled

Adam wants nothing more than to be a “normal” teen but his reality is quickly leaking normal. Almost on empty and afraid to sleep because of the monster that stalks him in his dreams, Adam’s breakdown at school in front of his crush Sarah lands him in the hospital.

As he struggles to cope with his day-to-day life, Adam can only vaguely comprehend some sort of future, hoping simply that it doesn’t involve sleeping under bridges that smell like pee. His mother died when he was only four and his eccentric father—who might be an assassin, a voodoo god, the reincarnation of the Buddha, or something even stranger—is never available when Adam really needs him. Even his crazy grandfather is no help. Though he promises not to do anything too rash, he insists that people are “out to kill the entire family.”

Finally, Adam’s far from normal life takes an even stranger turn when a fat man with a gold tooth and a medallion Adam can’t help but take confronts his father regarding Adam’s supposed “true destiny.”

In this American fairy tale, Adam is headed towards a collision with life, death, and the entities charged with shepherding souls of the newly dead, all competing to control lucrative territories where some nightmares are real and psychopomps of ancient legends walk the streets of North America.

KIRKUS, July 15, 2017

Adam Jones is a 15-year-old white boy who just wants to be “normal,” but his life is anything but. Unable to go to sleep for dread of monsters that stalk his dreams, Adam’s insomnia leads to a breakdown at school. At home, his mother’s been dead for years, and his eccentric father is often absent. Add his paranoid grandfather, who is convinced the family’s at risk. But is it really paranoia? Adam is forced to confront all this when a strange man with a broken-circle medallion shows up, demanding that Adam’s father get Adam in line with his “True Destiny.” This destiny involves a special boarding school, where things become stranger and scarier. But Adam finally begins to understand some things, and somehow he feels he belongs with this group of strangers, due in large part to their common roles as shepherds for souls of the newly dead. All is not bliss in his new life though, as it seems his new classmates are from competing families who seek to control lucrative territories in North America. A slowly unwinding tale about life and death and the in-between, this sibling collaboration may initially frustrate readers with its withholding of answers, but the Powerses’ worldbuilding and writing will keep them hooked. They will find themselves questioning what is fact and what is fiction and cheering Adam on as he journeys in this new, strange world. A gripping, philosophical paranormal thriller.


Adam has been plagued by nightmares since his mother died, but it’s not until a psychotic episode overtakes him at school that his dad ships him off to a private academy for help. Here, Adam learns his True Destiny—he is a soul guide, one of the few beings trained to lead a soul through death, into Limbo, and out to the Other Side. A child of two warring guide clans, Adam has been raised with no training on how to use the giant powers roiling inside him; and although warned to trust no one, he doesn’t know enough to avoid La Luz (a shadowy organization seeking to overthrow death itself—and, by extension, the soul guides, too) in time to prevent a schoolmate’s death.

He is ultimately on his own when it comes to dealing with his (quite real) inner demons. Although the authors’ world-building is thin and the last chapter is more a pause for breath than a conclusion, readers will forgive these aspects in favor of Adam’s wry, funny, and ultimately sweet voice. Through the horrors he encounters, he realizes that the family he longs for is more than just blood ties. Savvy readers will be disappointed with the sketchy details of the soul guide’s world. The blood, gore, and period explicit language render this better for older readers. Fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare will enjoy this series starter. VERDICT Buy where YA urban fantasy circulates briskly.