THE LEBRUS STONE
by Miriam Khan
YA Paranormal Romance
Rogue Pheonix Press
When eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, accepts an invitation to the small town of Blacksville, West Virginia, she hopes to have a summer to remember and a chance to learn more about her parents, to also get to know the family she never knew existed.
But the Lockes begin to act strange and erratic; eerie movements in the night fuel her vivid and gruesome nightmares. To complicate her summer further, she becomes attracted to the menacing yet handsome Cray Locke: her none blood related cousin.
He seems determined to keep his distance. The only bonus to her trip seems to be the housekeeper and gardener.
And when a local informs Crystal of the secrets buried at Thorncrest Manor, the kind consisting of a forbidden relationship and a war between hidden worlds, and witchcraft, she must decide whom to trust. Even if it means leaving behind those she has come to love.
Mystery, creepy moments and a constant fog of tension combine with a sense of the paranormal to make for an engaging read.
Crystal's an orphan but gets along fine until a long-lost great aunt suddenly appears at her door. Crystal agrees to join her wealthy relatives in the Thorncrest mansion, where she meets cold shoulders and a dark mystery.
Crystal is an independent girl and despite her obvious heavy baggage, comes across pretty strong. She's kind but guarded and an easy character to connect to. She has a couple of 'friends', which support her. There's a bit of a mystery around especially two of these, her boss and best friend, but these backgrounds don't really show up until the last pages--something I would have liked to see woven into the story earlier. Crystal also finds some allies at the mansion, which offer just the right amount of support and heart.
The setting is creepy and well down. The mansion is dark, shadowy, full of bumps in the night and keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. Crystal's new family is aloof with a rude and unkind attitude toward her, which raises the stakes and creates a spine-prickling atmosphere. With Crystal's independent nature, it wasn't quite clear why she put up with the treatment and, at times, her decisions lacked a little foundation. But the story stays thrilling and holds up the mystery and suspense nicely to keep those pages turning.
There's a bit of a romance, although it's more distanced and doesn't hit a real, emotional bond. So I'd shove this book more into the paranormal thriller direction than a romantic one.
The writing is well done. It's easy to get lost in the creepy world and wonder what might happen next. The pacing was a bit slow in the beginning, but earns full marks in this area once things get going about half-way into the book. The ending wraps up some ends, but many things are still unclear. So it appears that a book two is on the way.
Summed up, this is a goose bump raising story with lovely touches into the paranormal world. Friends of suspense and thrillers are sure to enjoy the read.