Book Review : Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Shadow Hills
, 388 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Egmont USA

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.

When I was first introduced to the paranormal genre, almost everything I read strikes me as unique and alluring. But after a while, I started to get somewhat bored with the similarities in many books. It seemed everyone was trying to reproduce the Twilight phenomenon. However, thankfully, there aren't any mythical creatures in Shadow Hills.

Our heroine Persephone "Phe" Archer often experiences strange, inexplicable dreams which shows her a graveyard, a tombstone and a person who looks eerily like her sister. She decides to investigate her sister's death by attending a school in Shadow Hills. She meets a handsome guy who can send electricity up her fingers - I mean real electricity, not the ones opposite sexes feel when they are physically attracted to one another. He even charged up her dead iPhone. (Can you imagine how useful he is? I bet he can light up a pile of dry leaves with his super-electricity.)

One thing I liked about this book is the way the author describes things that happen. Her words often feel genuine, and her descriptive skills are undeniably good. The romance between Phe and Zach, though a little rushed, sounds believable as they have a mutual interest in each other. And thank goodness they never overstep the boundaries of a healthy relationship.

However, I couldn't particularly connect to any of the characters. Please forgive me for my ignorance, but I did not have the slightest bit of idea what Phe's favourite music / bands are, as in I have never heard them before. The pacing was too slow for my liking, and the story too long. I almost gave up halfway through, but I wanted to see what all the fuss about Athena's mysterious death / genetic mutants was about, so I kept on reading, only to find out that the mystery isn't that much of a mystery after all.

In the latter parts of the novel, Phe's teacher Mr. Carr was murdered, and she was the first person to see him dead. She noticed that there were deep red fingerprints burns on his temples (before she fainted), so she guessed that he was murdered. Her love interest, Zach speculated that he may have accidentally killed himself, since he had superpowers too. And it took them a whole lot of time to come to the conclusion that he was killed. Seriously, if you were to press your temples using your own hands, the shape of the fingerprints would have been different than when you have someone else do it. Unless the person did it from behind you. But then the angle would be totally different. That's a simple logic, isn't it?

The identities of the bad guys were too predictable. Obviously it's one of those who were portrayed as morally askew people right from the beginning of the novel. I didn't even feel surprised that they were the culprit. So much for the grand revelation.

Bottom Line: I didn't like this book, but it was not that bad. At least I enjoyed the author's impressive literary prose.

Rating: 2 out of 5
About The Author
Anastasia Hopcus wrote her first book in the 2nd grade.It was entitled Frederick the Friendly French Ferret and was seven pages long. During high school she wrote numerous short stories and started (but never finished) three screenplays, all as an alternative to doing actual school work. At the very wise age of twelve her career ambition was to drive a Mack truck, but when that didn’t pan out, she tried acting, bartending, and being a receptionist in a dojo before finally returning to writing. Anastasia loves horror movies, Joss Whedon, obsessing over music, and British accents. She lives in Austin, Texas.

4 creative remarks:

Dana - Let's Book It said...

I've run out of patience for the twilight genre myself so I was excited to read that this was different. Then I read the rest of your review and I'm disappointed. Too bad it wasn't a 5/5 kind of book.

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Sandy said...

Thanks for sharing your review, I have plans to read this book later this year as part of my friend's and I book club. I was sceptical of it's uniqueness the moment I read the synopsis but I have thing for stories set in creepy towns so hopefully I'll enjoy this one more than you did.


Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, this book by anastasia hop us is awesome shadow hills thrilling. If you like horror movies you will love his novel it is vey long but it's worth your tome to read punks!