Book Review: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

20342498Title: The Hawley Book of the Dead

Author: Chrysler Szarlan

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Witches

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Revelation “Reve” Dyer grew up with her grandmother’s family stories, stretching back centuries to Reve’s ancestors, who founded the town of Hawley Five Corners, Massachusetts. Their history is steeped in secrets, for few outsiders know that an ancient magic runs in the Dyer women’s blood, and that Reve is a magician whose powers are all too real.

Reve and her husband are world-famous Las Vegas illusionists. They have three lovely young daughters, a beautiful home, and what seems like a charmed life. But Reve’s world is shattered when an intruder alters her trick pistol and she accidentally shoots and kills her beloved husband onstage.

Fearing for her daughters’ lives, Reve flees with them to the place she has always felt safest—an antiquated farmhouse in the forest of Hawley Five Corners, where the magic of her ancestors reigns, and her oldest friend—and first love—is the town’s chief of police. Here, in the forest, with its undeniable air of enchantment, Reve hopes she and her girls will be protected.

Delving into the past for answers, Reve is drawn deeper into her family’s legends. What she discovers is The Hawley Book of the Dead, an ancient leather-bound journal holding mysterious mythic power. As she pieces together the truth behind the book, Reve will have to shield herself and her daughters against an uncertain, increasingly dangerous fate. For soon it becomes clear that the stranger who upended Reve’s life in Las Vegas has followed her to Hawley—and that she has something he desperately wants.

Brimming with rich history, suspense, and magic, The Hawley Book of the Dead is a brilliantly imagined debut novel from a riveting new voice.

The Hawley Book of the Dead has an original, surprising premise, and delivers with great writing and outstanding characters. The book starts off with a bang, introducing us to Revelation, “Reve” Dyer, who accidentally kills her husband. They’re a duo of magicians and illusionists, but one night, one of their tricks goes wrong and she kills her husband on stage. Reve is broken up about it, and along with her three daughters, she struggles to pick up the pieces of her life. Afraid the person who murdered her husband (the intruder who switched her trick pistol) is after them, she gathers her girls and moves to Hawley Five Corners, a small town founded by her ancestors.

But living in a secluded farmhouse in the middle of a town she grew up hearing so much about, Reve discovers things about her history that she never thought possible. She finds the Hawley Book of the Dead, an ancient journal with strange power that might save her or destroy her. Reve tries to uncover the journal’s secrets, and hopes it might help protect herself and her daughters, for it seems the person who murdered her husband has chased them to Hawley…

The book has an amazing amount of lore behind it, and I enjoyed uncovering the secret of the Hawley Book of the Dead. It also has a good amount of mystery and even some thriller-aspects. The middle part lagged a bit, but I found that this helped build up the supsense. I began to really care for Reve and her daughters, and I didn’t want anything to happen to them. The characters were well-rounded and interesting. Reve’s sorrow and grief is so realistic you instantly feel bad fo her.

While the plot was interesting, it was the magic that brought this book to the next level for me. I liked the history behind it, the introduction of the book, and in general, the whole magic system. The writing was great too, with vivid descriptions and an unique setting.

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