Blurb: “When Sophie Ballester and her twin brothers Sam and Todd are uprooted from their home and sent to a remote boarding school run by their Great Aunt Ness, they stumble upon a hidden room that holds a secret – a secret that will change everything. The people of Phoenix Holt are not what they seem. In fact, nothing is.”
**I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
I first heard about this book when Benjaminoftomes announced that he was launching a micro-publishing company “oftomes” and this was to be the first release. Given the current, and ever-growing size, of my TBR shelf I didn’t see myself picking up this book any time soon and despite the pretty good reviews I’d seen, nothing really compelled me to buy it. Then the lovely Ben was kind enough to send me a free copy in exchange for this review you are reading right now. So, I better get started!
The story follows Ballester children Sophie, Sam and Todd who are forced to leave their lives behind when their Grandfather dies an move in with their Great Aunt Ness in Phoenix Holt. This book had the best things to keep any reader hooked: weird people/happenings and secrets. Boy oh boy are there a lot of secrets in this one!
My absolute favourite chapter takes place very early on (when the characters are on the train travelling to Phoenix Holt) and features a rather creepy woman, delighted to hear the Ballester name. She seats Sophie and pulls out a pack of tarrot cards and begins dealing them. It was just so intriguing, unnerving and so well written that I felt like I was actually Sophie in this moment.
As I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of secrets and for me to divulge any of them would simply ruin the reading experience of the book, however, there is one I can share with you because it’s in the blurb! (YAY) The secret room. The trio stumble across this strange room full of weird objects. This room naturally (to a bunch of teenagers) becomes a big focus point and they find themselves sneaking back there on several occasions. They way they had to get into the room reminded me very much of when Coraline in the short story by Neil Gaiman would crawl through the tunnel to get to the other world. It just felt so darn magical.
There’s mentions of Daemons (not Damon from The Vampire Diaries as I kept reading it) who are sources of dark power and Divellions who hunt for power. There’s love (eye roll) that sadly just felt too forced for me. And of course, there’s action. However, for me personally, the last quarter just felt really lacking. As if the story had reached its peak and the characters were like “where do we go now?”
This book turned out to be so much more than I originally expected it to be. I you haven’t picked up a copy yet, do it now!
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