17 year-old Alexa knows 2 things: she's pissed at her mother and her mother's rigorous training, and she would do anything to protect her sister, Nelly. She doesn't realize how important these 2 things are until her world comes crashing down and she's thrown into a dark world of the supernatural.
OK, there's one thing that's very hard to do, and that's find the right measurement of ingredients and combine them with just the right temperature to bake brownies (yes, I'm using a brownie metaphor for story). Most authors fall into one of 2 traps: either they start off too slow and don't draw the reader in until past the midway mark...their brownies are undercooked; or they start off too fast and don't find their story's groove until past the midway mark...their brownies are rock hard around the edges, with some good stuff somewhere in the middle. I myself have been accused of the latter, so I, unfortunately, am speaking from experience here. So has H.D. Gordon. It's very hard to find the right mix of ingredients to make the perfect brownie; you have to measure and mix those ingredients and find just the right temperature so that luscious brownie aroma lures you right from the beginning, traps you so that you can't stop at just one bite.
I will say this: the last 1/3 of this book was the shit; it was one good brownie.
The story started a little too quickly. It needed to slow down and help me see the surroundings, see the characters (especially Alexa), and immerse me into Alexa's world. Nelly was perhaps the most vividly drawn character, probably because we see her through Alexa's eyes and she's very dear to Alexa. But I have to admit I didn't have a good sense of Alexa. At one point, Alexa was thinking how a dress and a nice pair of shoes could make a girl happy (or something to that effect, I don't remember exactly), but I *do* remember stopping and thinking, "Wow, I thought Alexa was more a t-shirt and sweat pants kind of girl. I didn't know she liked to dress up!"
The other thing that I didn't believe about Alexa's character were 2 instances where she interacted with children. One of the driving motivators for Alexa was that she likes children and would do anything to protect them...and these are children she doesn't know personally. These are children she's just met. That's fine, but these two instances where she interacted with a child seemed contrived to me, as though they were inserted into the story to make me like Alexa. The first time this happened it seemed to come out of the blue, with Alexa "telling" us how she really like children. This aspect of her character wasn't developed enough to make it believable.
And yes, there was a lot of telling. If you've read my reviews, you know how I like visceral emotions, I like to feel what the character's feeling, I like stuff explained and described. Don't tell me a character is mad, or sad, or scared. Describe this to me. Make me feel it. Make me *believe* it.
With all that being said, this author hit her stride just past the midway mark. All of a sudden, I'm immersed in this new world. All of a sudden, H.D. Gordon found the right mix of ingredients to make this one kick-ass, delicous brownie. All of a sudden, I found myself interested in finding out what's going to happen to Alexa next. I couldn't eat up the words fast enough.
In fact, overall, I would call these brownies a success. The brownies, though hard around the edges, were delicous in the middle.
I look forward to more brownies from H.D. Gordon.