4 out of 4 stars
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Harper is in her senior year of high school. She's moved around a lot, so she doesn't really feel like she fits in well anywhere. Except, in this latest move, she found a kindred spirit named Olive. It seems like her family is getting ready to move again, but Harper is determined to spend her senior year with Olive. In the blink of an eye, everything changes when Harper's entire family dies at the hands of a hit-and-run driver.
Now completely alone in the world, Harper crashes at Olive's house while she tries to figure everything out. Suddenly, she is contacted by an aunt she didn't know she had. Aunt Mary wants her to spend some time at her retreat, Raven Dock. Harper begrudgingly agrees, but nothing is as it seems. Who is her Aunt Mary? Why did her father keep her a secret?
Raven Dock is a young adult novel written by Sara Caldwell. At just under 150 pages, it's a quick read with a plot that moves swiftly. The suspense continues to build, and the ending might not be exactly what you expect. There are a few more gruesome descriptions, but for the most part, the book is suitable for younger teenagers and up.
I think what I most appreciated about the book was its uniqueness. There are supernatural elements; however, it was far from the typical vampire/werewolf/witch story. It was refreshing to read a story in this genre that didn't remind me of another popular book the entire time.
We do get quite a bit of background on Harper as far as family history. However, it comes in bits and pieces, which doesn't overwhelm the reader. There is enough action and mystery interspersed with the more sedate details to keep any reader interested. Perhaps some of the secondary characters aren't quite as well-rounded as some would like. Still, this book is more about Harper's discovery. Since it's a book one, I have a feeling more of the other characters will be explored in the future.
Speaking of the first book, I was also appreciated that most of the plot in this book was wrapped up. There was enough mystery and intrigue to make me want to read the next book in the series; but, at the same time, I'm not sure I would call this a cliffhanger. To me, it says something about the author when they can make you want to read the next book in the series without leaving everything open-ended.
I would give Raven Dock 4 out of 4 stars. The writing style was appropriate for the genre, and I really enjoyed the building of suspense. Though some of the characters weren't as developed as others, it wasn't anything that I felt warranted removing a star. I would recommend this to those that enjoy a good, young adult novel full of magic and suspense. For those that are looking for a more complex story and style of writing, I would recommend you look elsewhere.
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