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

517lrEQ+kiL._SY300_Synopsis: 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.

Title: The Hawley Book of the Dead
Author: Chrysler Szarlan
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780099584780

I was provided a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3stars

I’m always unsure about books that attempt to bridge the gap between genres; generally I find them lacking in each and wish they would have focused their energies in one area. This contemporary thriller/magical read was no exception to the rule.

The Hawley Book of the Dead is a rather straight-forward mystery/thriller about a vengeful stalker out to destroy the women he believes ruined his life. Yes, the plot is centred on magic, but it takes second place to the modern day ‘stalker’ element. Other readers might find this preferable, as it brings the mystical back into the real world. In my opinion, however, the ‘magic’ side of things was underdeveloped.

Szarlan’s writing is very plot-focused; it has more to do with everything that’s going on than with the characters themselves. It was unfortunate that so little time given to the characters; they were most intriguing – and magical – part of the story.

The books big ‘reveal’ was also hugely underwhelming; for an ancient enemy that hasn’t been conquered for so long, he doesn’t put up much of a fight. I was expecting epic battles; terror; loss … anything! But I got a tidy little package of a finale, all wrapped up with a bow.

So why did I give this book a 3/5? Well, The Hawley Book of the Dead’s saving grace is its pace. It’s punchy, stimulating and atmospheric. You’re given small snippets of information throughout the book that keep you wanting more. I whizzed through this book in two days and found it difficult to put down.

Bottom line, Szarlan weaves a tale that is fast-paced and eerily atmospheric. In my opinion, it would have done better as a simple mystery about a magician and her family; sometimes simpler is better!

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