Series: Darkling Saga (#1)
Author: Jamie Cassidy
From: beta/review copy
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Gemma and her family are new in Learmouth and have moved into the house on the hill. Gemma finds the house creepy almost as soon as she sees it, and her views are shared by her younger brother, Danny, and her Mum's partner, Jules. But Danny's twin, Heather, loves the house, and keeps trying to get Danny to play with her friend, Elsa. Even with a new school, a new home and new friends, Gemma still can't shake the creepiness that the house has to offer, though maybe in this case she should listen...
For whatever reason I don't tend to read that much horror, and I'm not too sure why because I have enjoyed horror books in the past, but this was written by a writing duo that have yet to write anything I don't like, so I was more than happy to beta for them. Because I read the book as a beta reader (for the first time) I did read it slightly differently than a normal book, and even so I could still feel the suspense brewing, on reading through without stopping, the suspense is even more intense!
Hawthorn never really gave away what was going on until it was too late. I had a lot of guesses throughout the book as to what was happening and why, but it didn't come together until later on (which is a good thing in horror I think or else it ruins the tension!) When the big reveal did come the story felt like it really came together! The ending was a really good one for horror, I thought it worked well and tied up the loose ends.
One of the big things that made Hawthorn unique was the point of view splits. I've never before read a book that included POVs from small children (Heather and Danny turned 5 during the book). I thought the authors did a fantastic job of continueing the story at the same time as capturing the childish essense to their POVs. It worked well, without making either of the children sounding too old. They also came across very differently which helped with their character development.
I will admit to having a soft spot for Danny while reading. There was a lot that reminded me of my own brother, and the relationshiup that Danny had with his (quite a bit older) sister, Gemma, made it even more so. I did find myself drawn to those two characters together and it made me feel more connected and affected by the story.
Gemma herself felt like a genuine teenager. Quite often I've found teenage characters end up sounding older than they are supposed to be, and though Gemma could be mature at times, I never felt that she was. She was a teenager and she acted like it, both in her interactions with other characters and her thoughts.
The other two characters (on top of the three children in the story) that had POVs were Gemma & the Twins mother, Mary, and her partner, Jules. They had very different views on the kids, but both cared a great deal about them. I particularly liked Jules as a character, I think there was just something about her. I also really liked the fact that the parental figures were lesbians, I liked that their relationship was already established rather than them discovering themselves.
Hawthorn was full of mystery and suspense. A definite read if you enjoy horror!