Valley Of Secrets (#1) by Morgan Knight

Published: 9th October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Green Rhino Media LLC
Pages: 497
Format: ebook
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Dark Romance
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

A secret past. An alluring stranger seeking to destroy her. A power she must harness and a truth she must uncover to stay alive.

Emilia never quite understood why her parents refused to talk about their past. She was just a child when they died suddenly, leaving her to wonder about who they really were and where she came from. When an attorney contacts her regarding a family estate matter in Europe, she seizes the opportunity to learn more, and ventures to an isolated village in the Tatra Mountains seeking answers.

Massimino is a sorcerer looking to use Emilia to advance his own powers and seek vengeance on those who banished him centuries ago. He knows she is the last of a powerful bloodline, so invading her dreams, he calls to her, seduces her, and makes her body respond in new, thrilling ways.

Can Emilia uncover her origins and the influence her ancestors once held over a hidden world of mystical forces? They kept the past from Emilia for a reason, but Massimino has found her anyway. Once he has made her fall in love, will she die for him?

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

I was wary when I saw this was a 500 page story, especially for what I thought was a fantasy but Knight has actually concocted an engaging story that keeps you turning the page. What it actually is is a contemporary new adult story that has elements of mystery and paranormal elements. There’s manipulation and magic, the dark romance is there too but Knight has done a good job making sure it isn’t too explicit or crude and every moment is there as part of the story and not only there for shock. The sex scenes are described tastefully as they can given the context, but even then there are strange relationship of acceptance, reluctance, and persuasion.

The mystery of this story follows Emilia’s past and her family she knows almost nothing about. When Emilia is given a chance to find out where she comes from she jumps at the chance which takes her on an unexpected journey. The details of the mystery are gradually uncovered and enough information is given to keep you engaged without being left in the dark with countless obscurities and vague answers.

The introduction to this world is good, something I’d expect from a story being this length, but there’s plenty to expand into more books without straining for additional narrative. The move from the contemporary to the paranormal felt natural and the gradual introduction meant there was a natural cross over and no sudden shifts. There is real world magic but I liked that there was a connection to the old world with castles and curses. The mix of the modern and the old was a great contrast and it was interesting to see how to two worlds lived side by side.

I believed the sister relationship between Amanda and Emilia, from best friends to adopted sisters it is a great demonstration of their friendship, especially one that has been long established. I also loved that the girls were in their early 20s and therefore not in the teenage category, which also makes the events in this story acceptable and believable.

Emilia’s strength and her intellect are a great combatant for what she comes up against in this narrative and Knight brings it out at the right moments when you think these girls are lost in an environment they may otherwise be out of their depth. Emilia is an adult and smart and you cans ee both girls’ personalities coming through in their interactions with one another and those around them.

Without spoilers I will say that the way Knight has made a contemporary story feel like one that has fantasy and magical elements was wonderful. Even a touch of the historical as well. At times I had to remind myself that this was still a contemporary story with internet and planes and modern evil but it was believable that there were magical ties as well. Knight has left plenty to move into the next story and I look forward to seeing where this series is heading.

You can purchase Valley of Secrets via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Crow Box (#1) by Nikki Rae

Published: 15th January 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Self Published
Pages: 164
Format: ebook
Genre: New Adult/Paranormal/Mystery
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The small wooden box is dirty, the size of a human fist, and sealed with wax. When Corbin takes it upon herself to clean it and break the seal, a voice she has tried to ignore gathers strength. Shadows play on the walls at night, and with a family history of mental illness, Corbin fears the worst. But the voice tells her it is real. That its name is Six and it will prove it in time. 

Drawn to this mysterious entity, Corbin isn’t sure what to believe and the line between reality and her imagination blurs more every day.

Some doors should not be opened; can this one be closed?

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

I think I say this for every one of Nikki Rae’s books, but she is a master at telling a story. Not only are the themes and the plots intricate and unique, but her words and descriptions and vivid and evoke images and feelings, and she places you inside the mind of her characters so well, it’s almost like you are experiencing things alongside them, even minor things like understanding the mind of an artist.

The Crow Box was nothing like I thought it would be, and I am not even disappointed by that. I was not entirely sure what I expected but Rae didn’t let me down. Corbin’s story is filled with mystery and a slow but dangerous decent and watching her struggle against it is enthralling.

When Corbin starts to hear a voice she thinks she is going mad like her mother, and seeing the way Rae introduces Six, and the way it interacts with Corbin, it’s clear why Corbin thinks she is losing her mind. But the wonder of the story is how she functions alongside it, what she does to deal with it, how she reasons with it, embraces it, fears it. Rae’s writing brings you into Corbin’s experience and makes you understand unreservedly what she is going through. Her confusion and attempt to explain what is happening is expressed and explored beautifully.

What makes Corbin so wonderful is that she is practical, she’s had years of stress and worry because of her mother’s condition but she manages to cope and enjoy her art and things around her. Her approach to the strange occurrences around her are reasoned and as Rae brings us deeper into Corbin’s mind you can see this reasoning adjust, but remain.

Rae gradually pulling you into Corbin’s mind is eerie and unsettling. The journey from being an outsider to her inner thoughts is amazing, and it unsettles you in all the right ways. Not knowing what Six is or where it comes from is also part of the experience. The unanswered questions and the non answers given by Six add to the secrets. The gradual development and the mystery is intriguing, and Rae balances the pace and story flow with the not knowing and slow burn mystery very well. There is a balance between the surreal and the real which only enhances the overall feeling because it brings in the idea that the strange and unexplained could come so easily into the every day.

Wherever you think the story is going it isn’t and where Rae takes you is incredible. Theories and assumptions get tossed aside as another thing unravels your thoughts, and tiny twists make you realise you are in much deeper than you thought. The writing is melodic and creative, but not overly poetic or dramatic, the right balance to convey meaning and portray a scene. Rae uses her words wisely and her descriptions are perfect for capturing just the right explanation for a sensation or a feeling. The writing teases you and taunts you, offering hope and answers like dangling a string for a cat.

After the experience Rae takes you on and after those final few chapters, the ending is one of the most frustrating things you’ll endure. The ‘to be continued’ makes you want to pick up the next book immediately and keep reading. From the very first line until the final full stop Rae holds your attention and once you’ve started down this rabbit hole you won’t want to stop.

You can purchase The Crow Box via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust

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