First off, I must say that setting a young adult paranormal on board the tragedy of the Titanic is a fantastical idea.
That said, there is plenty more to like about Fateful by Claudia Gray. There is the heroine, Tess Davies, a young ladies' maid hoping to change her fortunes once the Titanic docks in America; there is Alec Marlowe, the tortured first class passenger who harbors a strange, heart-breaking secret; there is Myriam, a third class Lebanese traveler whose friendship Tess comes to value in many ways; there is Irene, the young woman Tess cares for who has secrets all her own; and there is the Titanic itself, steeped in all the tragedy and grandeur of history. Tess is a young woman ahead of her time, determined to escape the life of a ladies' maid and live on her own in America, and her family's personal tragedy propels her to take chances she might otherwise avoid. Once on board the Titanic, however, her strange encounter with with a wolf on the streets of Southampton turns into an even deeper mystery when Tess finds herself stalked by the creepy Mikhail; her very life comes into danger when she realizes just whom--and what--she is dealing with.
I really enjoyed Fateful with its fast plot, evil villain, and paranormal aspect. The fact that Ms. Gray was able to weave her story among the great ship and its real life passengers was very enjoyable for this Titanic buff, and she explains her liberties fully in the author's note. If the characters are a little too cardboard caricature, it's all right since the story fulfills its purpose and ends on a particularly unexpected measure. My biggest issue was with the idea that no one would report or raise a cry when a rather large wolf escapes and kills a man; that particular scene was really unrealistic, even for a paranormal. And though I loved the "romance" between Alec and Tess, I seriously doubt his ability to fall in love with a ladies' maid, even one who knows his secrets and rescues him. But still, it's a young adult novel and it's a paranormal so I can overlook that little qualm because the ending makes up for every single issue I had. I'm hopeful there will be a sequel or two because this story certainly isn't over. Fun and engaging with a unique setting.