Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Hawley Book of The Dead - Chrysler Szarlan

In the tradition of The Night Circus and A Discovery of Witches, The Hawley Book of the Dead is the kind of novel that makes you believe that magic really exists.

An old house surrounded by acres of forest.

A place of secrets, mysteries and magic.

This is where Revelation Dyer hopes to keep herself and her children safe.

But a mysterious figure has haunted Reve for over a decade. And now Reve knows that this person is on her trail again.

In Hawley, where the magic of her ancestors reigns, Reve must unlock the secrets of the Hawley Book of the Dead before it’s too late…

I have a confession to make about The Hawley Book Of The Dead. I borrowed it from the library seven months ago. It has taken me 7 months to pick up this book, read it and then kick myself for taking so long to read it. I've renewed it about 4 times and almost sent it back twice thinking that maybe it wasn't for me. I'm so glad I didn't as it turned out to be one of those books that I utterly adored and I'm really annoyed I can't go out and buy a copy to keep.

Revelation and Jeremy are the Amazing Maskelynes, a magic act in Vegas but for them, the magic is real. It's in their family and their children, the twins Grace & Fai and youngest Caleigh. After a deeply shocking tragedy Reve finds past memories coming back to her, of being hunted by someone known only as the Fetch. It's time to withdraw and pull back to where the family can be safest, Reve's childhood home in Hawley Five Corners. This is dangerous in itself as it was the site of a mass disappearance in the 1920's and the only person who reappeared was Reve's own grandmother.

The Hawley Book Of The Dead is an eclectic mix of fantasy, horror, historical, conspiracy and mystery which add up to my favorite sort of read. I was intrigued by the introduction of the Tuatha De Danaan and the idea that Reve is descended from this mysterious Irish race. Much was made of the fact they weren't fairies but more a people who had strange, unexplained powers - much like our heroine herself, along with the red hair of course. I also liked the introduction of the four treasures of the Tuatha, the first of which is found by Reve. I loved Reve as a character although she was far from perfect. At times she would be completely floundering and other times pigheaded and stubborn to the point of stupidity. The children were all great, Grace and Fai (Faith) the twins and their younger sister Caleigh were beautifully portrayed, down to the extraordinarily close bond of identical twins, shown through the text messages between sisters. A host of supporting characters were just as well written as the main, Falcon Eddy and Nan being particular favorites along with cousin Nathan, living with the family and homeschooling the children.

The book wasn't perfect in every way, there were a couple of things that niggled but they were in no way distracting from the overall story. It was the introduction of former childhood sweetheart Jolon as love interest that irked me most. Considering the tragedy at the beginning of the story it annoyed me the way Reve treated Jolon in a situation that takes up much of the last third of the book and the other niggle was the predictable whereabouts of Grace and Fai when they go missing, there was a lot of build-up to this but not much tension thanks to a little bit too much forewarning.

The Hawley Book of the Dead appears to be the first in a quartet called The Revelation Chronicles and apart from an excerpt of the second book, Dreamland, on Chrysler's blog there's no information as to when we can expect the next instalment apart from sometime in the future. If it's as good as Hawley then I can't wait, this was one of the most magical books I've read for a while, one of those that you just have to keep turning the pages until you're finished!

The Hawley Book Of The Dead - Chrysler Szarlan
ISBN - 9780099584780
Publisher - Arrow Books
Release date - March 26 2015

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