*I was assigned this book for SPFBO7*
Birthright starts off with a group of young girls in a group home playing hide and seek. Right off the bat, I assumed this was a Middle Grade story. The writing was more simple, we have a young protagonist named Arleth (great name!) who is clearly without a family. You get the sense that these girls ARE her family. And the headmaster of the group home is likable and Arleth definitely loves her.
So I'm innocently reading along when suddenly - yeah, this wasn't a Middle Grade story. Monsters appear out of a portal and attack the group home. There is blood everywhere, people are dying, being thrown into walls, more blood... it was a bit disconcerting, to be honest. The monsters were really well done. Like, truly scary.
Fast forward a few years, and we find Arleth having escaped the awful attack and is now enslaved to a true psychopath. Her owner was completely, outlandishly narcissistic, with a son who loved to torture Arleth.
I must admit, I ended up DNF'ing the book at this point. The plot, while it seemed to be well done, didn't quite fit with the simplicity of the writing. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that, although it's written with a Middle Grade style (which I typically don't go for Middle Grade books) the content was definitely adult. I just couldn't get over it. I apologize profusely to the author. It's one of the downfalls of SPFBO; we judges are randomly given a batch of books, whether we like them or not. I wouldn't ever pick up a story like this in real life. But I'm sure there is an audience for this story. I'm just not not it.
Fans of Middle Grade books who don't mind adult themes, with scary monsters and truly hateful antagonists will probably like this one.