Nick and Kate-1991 (Nick Ballard #0.5), by Anthony Steven

Eight stars

Having enjoyed the first two novels in the series, I readily accepted this prequel short story by Anthony Steven. While Nick Ballard and Kate Garvey have shown their abilities effectively in the series, this takes the reader back to their youth, at a time when they were both struggling with comprehending their abilities and keeping them from others. Steven keeps the reader informed, entertained, and intrigued throughout, as the next in the Ballard series has yet to be revealed.

Nick Ballard suffers the same plight as many teenage boys, with bullies at school and the awkwardness of semi-independence at home. He also has a secret, one that he has not shared. He can read the minds of those who stand before him, something that can be both beneficial and highly troubling. When a new teacher begins at the school, Nick’s abilities open new and haunting revelations that he will have to process.

Kate Garvey knows loss all too well. Her mother died when she was young and she’s forced into independence, as her father cannot handle it. When her best friend is murdered, Kate refuses to stand still and begins looking into it. This will, however, open new issues and could cost her everything, as someone is keen to keep the murder, and their lifestyle, a complete secret.

Two teenagers, whose lives have yet to intersect, work tirelessly to make a difference in those around them. It may be 1991, but they are keenly aware that the future could hold great things for them, if only they can shake themselves out of the troubles of their present.

While Anthony Steven’s work is not usually long and drawn-out, it is certainly filled with exciting twists that keep the story moving. The narrative is strong and holds the reader’s attention throughout. There is movement with the plot, something that never appears to wane throughout. While this is only the kernel of both Nick and Kate’s abilities, it provides a great setting and fills in some of the questions that series fan will likely have developed. I am eager to see where things go from here.

Kudos, Mr. Steven, for an interesting short story. Keep them coming, as I know your fan base remains curious.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: