Monday, September 22, 2014

REVIEW: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Revelation Dyer is descended from a long matriarchal line of New England witches, each with their own curious power. Revelation's power is that she can vanish into thin air, making her talent as a stage magician quite legendary. When her husband, famed magician Jeremy Maskelyne and the other half of her act, is killed in a freak accident—which turns out to be not quite an accident after all—Reve's life starts to fall apart. On the prompting of her grandmother, whom she fondly calls Nan, she does the only thing she can think of: gathers up her three daughters and returns home, to the small town of Hawley Five Corners, Massachusetts, an area where her ancestral magic runs strong. The little ghost town, residing on the edge of Hawley Forest, and next to it's larger Hawley neighbor, has quite a bit of controversy surrounding it, and it's own rich set of historical legends the locals are reticent to even talk about. But if Reve is to defeat the elusive enemy that's haunting her, she's going to need all the help she can get.

Wow, what an amazing, spectacular, spellbinding story! It gripped me from the moment I picked it up, and though I was excited to hear that there will be more Revelation stories to come, I'm sad I'll have to wait for them. Chrysler Szarlan has got some mad skills with world building and character development, a startling fact considering this is her debut novel. I found myself lost in the story for hours on end, difficult to put down.

This story was both haunting and magical, drawing the reader in with it's flowing prose and vivid descriptions. If I had to give any criticism at all, I'd say it's only that Reve frustrated me at times, with her reluctance to believe what was right in front of her, especially coming from a magical family as she did. I liked that the story took place primarily in Western Massachusetts as well as Las Vegas, both areas I'm familiar with, as I love feeling that connection with place that a story can evoke. I'm definitely looking forward to more!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Ballantine Books for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.