Review: Shadow Hills

After her sister Athena’s tragic death, it’s obvious that grief-stricken Persephone “Phe” Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister’s sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills’ history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister’s untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills. –From Amazon

Shadow Hills is an amazing debut novel with a fantastic mix of romance, mystery, mythology, and science. I have an unusual interest in boarding schools; creepy, small towns; spooky graveyards; dreams; and scientifically explainable special powers. Anastasia Hopcus managed to combine all of these in a beautifully written book that exceeded my expectations. (It’s true that I start most paranormal books with fairly low expectations these days, but that’s when happens when there’s a genre boom. Shadow Hills is more than just another paranormal romance to throw into the pile; it is a really fresh, smart, and engaging book.)

I enjoyed the whole cast of characters. Inquisitive and impulsively daring Phe, hot and mysterious Zach, geeky friends Graham and Toy, snobbish but lovable Adriana, villainous Trent and Corinne, and a variety of others make up a well-rounded group of individuals that I hope to spend more time with in the alleged sequel–still only known as “book 2.” Throughout the novel, I was shocked at how little time had passed since Phe arrived at Devenish Prep. So much happened so quickly. It doesn’t take long before the characters act like they have known each other forever, including Phe and Zach who, of course, love each other almost immediately. My slight distrust of love at first sight aside, there is clearly a lot of time left for Phe at Devenish and in the town of Shadow Hills. This first book does resolve the main story arc and answer many questions about the townies’ secret powers, but there is clearly more to discover in future stories, particularly about what drew Phe to Shadow Hills from Los Angeles.

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