I am so torn about The Hawley Book of the Dead. Until the moment I started writing this review, I honestly had no idea whether or not I would recommend it.
The Hawley Book of the Dead has a lot going for it. The characters are super cool. It starts with a bang, literally, when Reve (short for Revelation) kills her husband during a bullet catching trick (they’re Las Vegas magicians just one level below David Copperfield, as she describes it). As it turns out, someone switched out the special gun used for the trick with a real gun that looked the same. And that person is who Reve calls the Fetch.
The story of the Fetch is one Reve heard from her grandmother when she was a child. It’s about an evil being (the Fetch) who goes around stealing people’s souls (usually a loving husband and father). While Reve’s Fetch isn’t some mythical monster, the name evokes the feeling she has of her husband having been stolen, and she uses the name when she refers to the man who killed her husband and is stalking her and her daughters.
Anyway, I seem to be digressing into a synopsis, which is so not my thing. But the story is pretty interesting. A magical book to help a woman with actual (not over-the-top and out of place in the modern setting) magic (in twenty-first century New England) fight a magical enemy. A history of magic and powerful women named Revelation. A fight for her family’s survival. Misty woods. An old flame who is now the local sheriff. Mysterious disappearances. It’s really rather exciting. I even used a quote for That’s What HE Said Thursday this week.
Now here’s why I almost gave this a Leave It rating (and it was seriously a close one). The first two-thirds of the book (apart from the death of Reve’s husband) was really slow and boring. Lots of set up (which was necessary but still boring) for the exciting ending. And I wasn’t terribly fond of Reve. She just seemed a bit cold. Almost too strong, you know? I mean, she talked about how her husband always knew to let her fall, because she was perfectly capable of saving herself. Yeah, it’s not very feminist of me, but I kinda like my books to have characters who will let someone at least help, if not save them. And she really doesn’t need the help. At all. She doesn’t let anyone in until the danger is past. And where’s the fun in that?