Halton Cray – N.B. Roberts
(Shadows of the World #1)
Published: 10-8-2014 by Amazon Digital
Get the book: Amazon
When Alexandra Turner takes a job at the eerie Tudor mansion, Halton Cray, she needs all her wit and spirit to cope with the enigmatic Thom Rues. While a near constant fog envelopes the estate, Alex begins questioning the bizarre things she’s seeing around him, as gossip circulates that Thom is more than just different. Determined not to let rumours influence her, Alex tries to learn who he really is, even as he provokes her with his dark sense of humour. But discovery of Thom’s terrible secret propels Alex’s life in a direction she could have never predicted.
Photo – Andrea Hubner
I like this cover overall. It’s the little details that bring it down. I really like the photo of the girl, especially the way you can’t see her whole face and how her hair is blowing wildly and obscuring the background. It’s a huge plus that the heroine is actually a redhead. The background is suitably eerie for the tone of this book, with just enough detail to make it interesting. What I don’t like is the title font, although it could have been worse, or the golden color of the author’s name. It does kind of look self-published and needs a little pop.
Halton Cray is an eerie story following Alex as she works at a creepy old mansion with a mysterious tenant. This book has it all; a feisty heroine, great chemistry, a mysterious guy, a creepy haunted house. The atmosphere of this tale is like a ghost story. It’s a slow-building mystery and a slow-burning romance. This is an enthralling story that I really enjoyed and definitely recommend.
- Alex’s decision – This is gonna be incredibly vague to avoid spoilers, so try to just go with it. In the middle of this story, Alex makes an important decision about her life. She makes it quickly due to the time-sensitive situation she and Thom are in, but she fully commits to that decision. I really admire the way she makes that tough call, and I love that Thom is a character who respects Alex’s choice immediately. She makes her choice and asks him not to interfere, and he simply does as she wants instead of acting selfishly, which he easily could have done. There is no prolonged scene of Thom trying to change her mind, although of course he does make an attempt, and his nearly unquestioning acceptance of Alex’s decision is wonderful. I wish more book boyfriends and significant others were so confident in their partner’s ability to make choices of their own and support those choices.
- atmosphere – I love the setting, the pacing, and the eeriness of Halton Cray. Alex’s new job is at an old mansion rumored to be haunted; in fact, she takes over for an employee who literally ran away from the place. Much of the book takes place while Alex is working in the mansion, giving her plenty of exposure to strange noises, strange people, and Thom’s strange behavior. The ghost stories, along with the creepy things Alex experiences as work, build up her suspicions about Thom and the house slowly. Everything is done gradually and convincingly so I was just as uncertain about things as Alex was and I never guessed Thom’s secret.
- Alex + Thom – Alex is a strong and stubborn character who sticks to her guns. Thom is a mysterious guy who keeps to himself except to tease and provoke Alex. Most people are naturally repelled by Thom, but Alex decides to befriend him. Their banter while they get to know each other is highly entertaining, even if it has Alex sometimes questioning her sanity. The chemistry between these two is great even before any feelings are admitted. They are each strong-willed people throughout the twists and obstacles of the story.
- story – Although this is a paranormal romance, much of it reads like a contemporary story, which I really enjoyed. Alex is just going about her everyday life while noticing the occasional impossibility and being slowly drawn in to the mystery surrounding the mansion and Thom. There’s definitely a big helping of the paranormal in Halton Cray, but it’s done in a way that’s different from a lot of other paranormal books. There’s no ‘I’m special, I’m the chosen one’ cliche. There’s no adjusting to new powers or a new world. There’s just Alex, learning about things she didn’t know existed or happened.
- 2 parts – I felt like this book’s tone and pace were a bit too different from one half to the other. The first half builds everything up very slowly, while the second half launches into action and keeps going until the end. The section before Alex discovers Thom’s secret and the section following the revelation are so different that it threw me off. Of course the sections need to be different, but I really liked the eerie feel of the first half and it took a little time to get used to the faster pace of the second half.
- dramatic speeches – Thom has the tendency to make long and dramatic speeches and declarations – to himself, to Alex, and about pretty much whatever he has on his mind. Following the revelation of Thom’s secret, he rants about that secret, likes to make undying declarations of devotion, and generally speaks in an old-fashioned manner. Much of this comes from who Thom is and what his secret and story is, which is great. However, the grand declarations of adoration got to be a bit much for me.
He didn’t move for a moment. His eyes remained fixed on mine as though something strange had caught his attention. Almost certainly the wet strands of hair falling into my face. he looked from my eyes to my mouth and inclined his head a little towards me. I felt confusion with a racing in my chest. Then he bit his lower rip, took his arm away and turned abruptly for the stairs.
– Alex + Thom Loc. 1859
“Thom, I can’t leave them. There’s something in there, and it’s not right – it doesn’t seem like a normal person. Just help me, please?”
“I will always-” he rushed to say before hesitating. He got next to me, grabbed my arm firmly and spoke rapidly in my ear. “I know about the person in that room, Alex. Listen to me! It won’t harm them; do you understand?”
– Alex + Thom Loc. 3365
Acquired: bought (ebook)