Beautifully Broken (Spellbound, Book 1)
by Sherry Soule
Release Date: June 30, 2011
2011 Moonlight Publishing
E-Book Edition; 325 Pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Betwitching Book Tours
4 / 5 Stars
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms. Yet she is determined to discover the connection between them.
Finally, Shiloh's met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal, and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist and decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
Beautifully Broken was an enjoyable, fun read that held all the supernatural elements that I adore. Throw in a haunted mansion, a coven of witches, an old curse, old secrets, a town constantly filled with fog and little sunlight, an enforced curfew of 10 o'clock, a girl being haunted by wraiths, teenagers being murdered, and a new boy who can make a girl's blood sing, you have the elements of a novel that is creepy, scary, but also a lot of fun.
Shiloh Ravenwolf is a strong female character who I also found endearing with all of her flaws and her dramatic tendencies. With her strong sarcastic wit and sense of humour, I enjoyed her banter with the other characters and saw her sarcasm as a way of hiding her true feelings and true self from others; it was a wall she has built over the years of being labelled a freak and loser by her classmates and by the townspeople. She begins to open up a bit more when she meets Trent Donavon and begins work as an apprentice for his uncle at the family estate, Ravenhurst Manor. The relationship between Shiloh and Trent was rather interesting as it was not all roses and definitely did not end off the way I thought it would. Kudos to the author for not giving us the usual romantic entanglement, and for making things somewhat difficult between the two main characters as it reflects real life a bit more. I've never been a fan of instant love and being in love within hours of meeting someone and those books tend to turn me right off.
One of the things I really enjoyed was the descriptions of Ravenhurst Manor and all of the events that occurred at that mansion. It gave the novel more of a gothic feel and the atmosphere was creepy and dark most of the time. The shadows and the evil centered at Ravenhurst Manor and although Shiloh was surrounded by paranormal activity while working there, she forced herself to continue and to delve into its secrets. What she found was unexpected; first of all, she found an unexpected ally in Trent's uncle, and second of all, with digging, she learned more about the secrets of her own family and the secrets her parents refused to confide in her. And events that kept me racing through the last 100 pages or so of the novel all began at Ravenhurst.
Ms. Soule definitely knows how to keep a reader's interest and the novel began with quite a bang as Shiloh is attacked right from the beginning by a wraith and left wondering why this is happening to her. As the answers unfold, we are left with more questions and this keeps the reader wanting to know more and more. I did like how the action unfolded, with one scene leaping at you directly from another scene, but there were some things where you did have to suspend disbelief and just go with the flow. The girls' disappearance was a perfect example where I don't think it was handled as well as it could have been and I am hoping more will be explained in future novels. I would also like to have seen more interaction between Shiloh and her dysfunctional parents as she seemed to have a lot of freedom, and then suddenly her mom would appear in one scene and take her to task for missing her curfew. I would like to learn more about Shiloh's mom and her aunt as it looks like they are going to play crucial roles in coming events, but I felt like the interactions were somewhat jumbled and not always clear.
Beautifully Broken was a great read and gave the reader a lot to think about. With a lot of interesting characters, and a house with a character of its own, Ms. Soule delivered a novel packed with twists and turns, suspense, romance, and many secrets, which I loved. With an ending that is not quite satsifactory, all it does is make you look forward to reading the next book in the series, Beautifully Haunted, releasing November 2011. Until then, I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in the paranormal.
Sherry Soule has won awards for her short stories and writes full-time. She has been writing seriously for twelve years, during which time she has completed seven romantic suspense and supernatural-style manuscripts. She was a Creative writing Major and because of her love of reading and her dedication to the craft of writing fiction, she also did some freelance work as an Acquisitions Editor for Crescent Moon Press.
She is an active member of the SCBWI, RWA, and YACHATLIT.
Sherry writes young adult, horror, and paranormal, but no matter what genre she's writing, there has to be an element of romance. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her black cat, Charm. And her cat would like you to know that she’s not a morning person, rarely cooks, and loves all things supernatural.
Sherry currently writes both adult and young adult tales of magick, ghosts, romance and demon slaying.
Please visit her on the web http://www.sherrysoule.com/