Review: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

Reve (Revelation) Dyer’s life changes in the blink of an eye. She works as an assistant to her magician husband, Jeremy, and together they have three lovely daughters.

Their magic show in Las Vegas draws crowds every night, but in an instant everything changes.

While performing a magic trick, Defying the Bullets, she is supposed to ‘shoot’ her husband and he in turn coughs up the bullet.

When blood sprays and Jeremy falls dead to the ground, the audience and Reve are completely stunned.

It becomes clear that someone altered her gun with a real bullet but the question was why? Reve and her daughters suddenly start receiving envelopes of pictures from a ‘stalker’. Reve then receives a cryptic letter from her Nan begging her to come home less the Fetch find them.

The Fetch steals peoples souls, and its a familiar scary story that Reve remembers Nan telling her as a child. He stalks his victims and steals their souls but that’s all supposed to be fiction right?

Reve and her daughters flee to ‘home’ otherwise known as Hawley Five Corners in Massachusetts. Hawley Five Corners has a sketchy past. It’s been in the Dyer family for years, all the way back to the 1700’s. Many of the ‘Revelations’ have grown up there and lived here.

But there are strange rumors surrounding the history of the Five Corners. It’s an enchanting place rumors to contain magic, but there is also a dark mystery linked to the town.

Apparently five girls went missing in the woods never to be seen again, then a sixth went missing but she returned after a few months but she doesn’t remember ever being gone. Then the whole town disappears without a trace and had remained empty since then…..until Reve and her daughters arrive.

This book is the perfect Halloween read! I literally was up into the wee hours of the morning reading it. It was suspenseful and I loved how magic and witches were woven throughout the story.

The book had a distinct air of creepiness that it absolutely perfect for the fall. It’s the kind of book that you want to drink a pumpkin spice latte in front of the fire on a dark and stormy night!

It reminded me a little of the old Bette Davis film Watcher in the Woods. The setting was fitting for a suspenseful, paranormal, witch novel. The dark woods in rural Massachusetts in a deserted town hundreds of years old….I was envisioning Salem, Mass on a dark and stormy night. This book gets an A+ for setting and atmosphere!

As for the characters, Reve had a lot of potential as a strong heroine in future books (it appears she will be writing more on Reve which is such a delight to hear). At times I felt like she was a little wishy-washy, especially after her husband died. I mean she shot and killed him on stage in front of hundreds of people…..she seemed to kind of move on a little too quickly for me. I understand why she had to, and I think that without the shocking murder she would have been perfect. But when it starts out with her killing him, I think that kind of event commands a stronger, more tormented, haunted, main character. Without that she would have been fine.

I wanted to see more of Jolon too. I suspect we will see more of him in future books but I was hoping for a stronger male lead. It bugged me that Reve often said that her husband always let her fall because he knew she would be ok on her own, but that Jolon always wanted to catch her….it seemed like it bothered her that Jolon wanted to help her but at the same time she needed him and loved him for it.

I was confused by her feelings for Jolon. Perhaps that’s the idea, but I think that could have come in later books. In this book I thought it was important to establish a relationship between Jolon and Reve rather than suggest later turmoil within that relationship. Overall though I thought he will be an intriguing love interest for future books.

I am curious to learn more about Nan….I still suspect there is a lot she isn’t telling. I hope to see more of her!

The overall plot was suspenseful and I was literally up at night wondering what was lurking in the woods behind my house! The angle she presented the story and the background of the plot were interesting and intriguing at the same time. I thought she did a great job getting the audience engaged and excited about how things were going to culminate.

I loved how the sections started, especially the first one that is titled “misdirection”. It created a feeling of unease right from the beginning for the audience. I was instantly on guard and paying attention for things that weren’t quite right.

I loved how she incorporated horses into the story! I am an equestrian myself and have a horse, so reading books where horses play a significant part in the story are near and dear to my heart.

There were a couple of mechanical issues that bothered me. But the one that stood out the most was the reference to the ‘Yankees’, which grated on my nerves. Massachusetts isn’t in the South and neither is Las Vegas so the references to ‘Yankees’ bugged me.

Overall, this is a great novel for fall and Halloween. It’s scary, suspenseful, and I love the paranormal aspects. It kept me up at night reading in if I’m being entirely honest, I was worried the Fetch was coming for me next!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

  • Hardcover, 352 pages
    Published September 23rd 2014 by Ballantine Books (first published April 1st 2013)
    ISBN
    0345545028 (ISBN13: 9780345545022)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5

Genre: Suspense, witch lit, paranormal, magic

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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2 Comments

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