Monday, January 24, 2011

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Title: Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: Egmont USA
Hardcover, 388 pages
Date Published: July 13, 2010
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
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.

Shadow Hills has a new take on paranormal romance and I loved that. Anastasia Hopcus really builds up the history of the town and Devenish Prep, Phe’s new school. The mystery behind the town and its inhabitants is really well-written; it draws the reader in without giving too much away, so I was curious to see exactly where it was going.

The paranormal aspect of Phe’s weird dreams, that she sometimes shares with the gorgeous and mysterious Zach, kept me glued to the page. All the strange powers and gifts that the townies, Zach included, possess made me need to know exactly what was going to happen.

As a character, Phe is pretty much amazing. She’s witty and funny, but also strong. She’s willing to stand up for herself and others. Phe’s snooping reminded me of Veronica Mars and it made for a fun mystery/detective story.

The one thing that I really didn’t like (and most probably won’t agree here) is the romance. I love me a good romance story, I really do. But I am so over two people meeting, instantly having that connection, and falling in love in 0.2 seconds. I want to see more buildup and the romance between Phe and Zach lacks that.

They meet, have some tense ‘I know there’s something strange about you’ conversations, then all of a sudden, Zach throws caution to the wind to break all the rules because he loves Phe and cannot be without her. And clearly, Phe feels exactly the same way. Life would be so much worse if she could not be with this guy she met only a few weeks ago.

Sorry, my rant is over now. But, the romance has its moments. There’s plenty of tension filled scenes that lead to steamy kisses for people to enjoy. And if the romance isn’t your thing, the mystery about Shadow Hills is still there figure out. Not to mention, Hopcus does an exceptional job making the secondary characters interesting and enjoyable to read.

Shadow Hills wasn’t quite what I imagined, but the paranormal, and almost magical (witchy magical) aspects kept me reading. I was just as eager as Phe to figure out exactly who or what the townies were, and why her dreams were so vivid and seemed to all come back to her dead sister. Hopcus does mystery very well and I have a feeling that almost anyone who loves paranormal romance will probably enjoy this one.

Opening line:
I had thought nothing could be worse than what they had already done to me, but I was wrong. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines:
“Exactly. Life isn’t a series of steps you take to get somewhere. It’s everything that happens in between. Or, you know, something like that, but more eloquent and less clich├ęd.” ~ pg. 32
3.5 because of the mystery
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Anastasia Hopcus online:

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Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

I'm really tired of the insta-romance too, so I'm glad to hear the mystery in this novel makes up for it! I'm so intrigued! I want to know what connection her dead sister has to the goings-on. Great review! I really need to pick this book up!

brizmus said...

whoa, the romance sounds mega intense. This book sounds great - I feel like sometimes authors forget that you need more than just a good romance.
Great review!

Candace said...

I really loved this book but I read it before I was over the insta-romance and at that time it didn't bother me. But I remember I REALLY loved her characterization. I gave this one 5 stars but I always wonder if I were to reread it now, would I love it as much?

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I could get past the insta-romance, which is probably why I was still able to enjoy the book so much. Hopcus does a great job creating her characters and building the mystery.

Bere said...

Excellent review, Nikki! I've always wanted to read this one. I've heard a lot of things on it. Can't wait to get myself a copy. I'm glad had to hear you really enjoyed it. I know, the insta-romance thing sucks but I'm glad the mystery is totally worth it. =)

Small Review said...

Ugh, I agree completely! I loved the mystery and witchy/paranormal parts, but the romance bugged me a lot. I really don't like insta-love relationships. Your mini-rant is spot on.

I did think the ending was a little rushed though. I wish it hadn't resolved itself quite so neat and quick.

Kate Coombs said...

The paranormal romances are starting to blur together for me a little... Thanks for the review, esp. your thoughts on the insta-romance!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Kate - A lot of paranormal books are just way too similar nowadays, but Shadow Hills does have this great mystery aspect to it that sets it apart. That, and the history of the town is really interested.

Jessica (BookLover) said...

Hmm... I've been back and forth on whether or not to pick this one up. Thank you for your honest review! :)

~The Book Pixie said...

Yeah the paranormal genre has gotten to where it is often kinda sucky in the romance department. The story sounds really good though and I like that there is some mystery too it. Awesome review girl! :D


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