Review: Hawley Book of the Dead

The Hawley Book of the Dead, Chrysler Szarlan


Hardcover, 352 pages

Published September 23rd 2014 by Ballantine Books

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley


From the Publisher:

An old house surrounded by acres of forest.

A place of secrets, mysteries and magic.

This is where Reve 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…

It’s not often that you find yourself actively rooting for a character who has shot her loving husband, but Revelation Dyer is a different story.  Reve and her husband are Las Vegas illusionists working together when he is tragically killed during a show.  While living under police scrutiny in the aftermath, Reve remembers the childhood story her grandmother told her of the Fetch who chased her ancestors to their deaths.  Reve fears her own Fetch is onto her and spirits her family out of Las Vegas to family property at Hawley Five Corners, Massachusetts.

Reve’s magic is more than mere illusion you learn, as is that of her youngest daughter.  This magic goes back generations through the women in her family-women who lived in Hawley Five Corners before all of the townspeople disappeared one day.  Just poof! Disappeared.  So yes, after Reve’s husband is murdered she moves her kids to an uninhabited town in the middle of the woods.  Creepy.  Spooky as it sounds, this was Reve’s safe place as a child and her family is all nearby, so she believes they can stay hidden from the Fetch.  In this house in the middle of the woods Reve finds a book that has belonged to all of the Revelations before her and tries to turn to it for help.  I loved the creepy setting which surprised me as I don’t usually love scary things.  I loved digging into the story of what had happened in Hawley and how Reve’s family factored into that.

The Hawley Book of the Dead had my name all over it.  Generations of strong women, magic- not a ton but just enough to keep things interesting, and a mystery to solve.  However, I liked this book, but I just couldn’t love it.  The book jumps a bit from Reve’s perspective to that of her Fetch, as well as jumping back in time to the events that set him on her path. I liked this way of getting the path of the history across, but I still feel like somehow I missed something that would have made me love this more.  While the book read quickly for me in the beginning it slowed down in the second half – maybe due to all that jumping?  I also really didn’t like that her childhood love was thrown into the story – great that he shows up as a friend, but complicating things with a possible love connection did not work for me.  I think she could have dealt with the Fetch without that complication.

I am going to have to reread this one and see if I feel more into it. I see that Szarlan is working on another Revelation book and I would absolutely read it.  The stories of the other women in her family sound have a ton of potential.

3 stars!

Thank you Ballantine Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

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