Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Lies of Alma Blackwell by Amanda Glaze

Isn't the cover on today's read grabbing? I want to learn more about that house. I want to know what it has to do with the ocean (?). Mostly, I want to know how the horror side will work in. I'm ready to be drawn into a dark world and see where this goes. Now, I'm not really a horror fan...I'm a chicken...but this one sounds intriguing, and I'm even willing to be scared along the way (time to check those closets!). 

So, let's dive in and see where this one goes.

by Amanda Glaze
Union Square & Co.
YA Gothic Horror
384 pages

AUGUST 27th!!!

For over a century, the Blackwells have protected the town of Hollow Cliff from vengeful spirits. 

Seventeen-year-old Nev is ready to take over for her ailing grandmother as the town’s witch protector—unlike her mother, who left when Nev was a child and never looked back. When a stranger arrives at Blackwell House of Spirits to fill a tour guide opening, Nev reluctantly offers him the job. Nev doesn’t trust Cal Murphy. He knows more than he’s letting on about Blackwell House—and about Nev herself. But Nev soon learns that she has been lied to her whole life. 

By following the trail of clues left behind in Blackwell House by her most powerful witch ancestor, Nev uncovers an unspeakable legacy of murder and lies...and realizes that a stranger may be the one person she can trust.  



Shadows and secrets meld with spirits and magic in a dangerous weave of deadly lies.

At seventeen, Nev has already come to terms with the fact that she'll never leave the small town of Hollow Cliff. Thanks to the sudden onset of cancer, her grandmother can no longer protect the island from the evil spirits, leaving Nev as the only one who can take on the task. While Nev is expected to use her magic to keep the deadly spirits at bay, modern life goes on. She and her grandmother run a tour business for seasonal tourists. After all, the legends and history surrounding the town and Blackwell House leave chills down almost everyone's, none would ever begin to believe any of it is true. Which it is. And isn't. As a stranger works his way into her life, she begins to reveal the truth, and that is the most dangerous thing of all. 

Witches and manors with terrible secrets set the stage for a dive into a creepy tale full of deceit. During the first chapters, the small town on the shoreline comes across as a place with quaint flair, tons of history, and friendly residents...and horrible secrets. Nev hits the first page with energy. She knows and has long accepted her fate as the next protector of the town and is ready to keep it safe from the evil spirits who only want to kill. The darker side already heads into play as she considers the recent death of a resident, who was murdered by the spirits. Not that she can tell anyone because even the residents  need to hear that the horrible tales are things of the past. And here's where the odd balance comes in. The townspeople are very well aware of their paranormal history/truth because none of them can leave the town for long or they go mad. So while the first chapters present a very normal life with beach parties and tourists bumbling through the town, the unsettling part builds in the background as a building storm that everyone knows is there but doesn't acknowledge completely (except Nev and her grandmother). These first chapters also offer a slower start than I prefer, and that for the first 50 or so pages, but once the tale gets going, it grabs and holds until the last page. 

The tension is as high as the stakes, and the dark tones add a delightful edge to the increasing chills. Secrets come to light in unpredictable ways and at surprising times. Each one is well laid and not easy to see coming. These flow along with haunting smoothness and notch up at the right moments. While there are some questions surrounding the magic, which are never revealed, the mystery sinks its claws in deep to create an intriguing read.

There is romance, and this fits very well to the intended audience level. It steers clear from cliche love triangles and insta-attraction to promise a nice arc on this end, too. While strong and very present, it doesn't overtake the main plot, which was also nice to see. 

Fans of dark secrets with paranormal dangers and a touch of magic are sure to enjoy the chills and thrills of this read.

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