by Lois Duncan
Plot Summary:Nore Roberts didn't ask for a new life, but now that her mom is gone and her dad is newly married, she has to settle in at Shadow Grove, the old Civil War mansion her stepfamily calls home. When she meets her stepmother, Lisette, Nore is shocked by her youth and beauty that gives her chills- and a hint of something sinister. There's hope of becoming friends with her stepbrother and sister, until Nore realizes they're hiding something. When she begins to feel like the target of a deadly plan, Nore starts digging into her stepfamily's past. The skeletons in their closet are more real than she ever imagined. Can Nore expose her stepmother's dark secret before an old and evil magic swallows her up?
Review:Lois Duncan is an author I loved to read when I was a teenager. Her suspense stories always captured my imagination and kept me turning pages. The premise of this story has a supernatural element that is pretty easy to guess way before Nore suspects anything, but the suspense lies in how Nore will discover her stepfamily's secret and how will she be able to stop them. Although the mystery is a little predictable, I think the character building and the writing makes this a very engaging read.
Nore is an intelligent, observant main character, not too snarky or witty, but very kind and relatable and in the beginning, although she is a little bitter about her father's remarriage, she makes an effort to bond with her new family. Her step siblings, Gabe and Josie, are both likable and fiery, emotional and kind and through them, you see the toll their secret has taken on their family. Gradually things unravel, and it is interesting to see how Gabe and Josie are changed by Nore's personality. Nore's father is perhaps the least defined character in this book because he is often out of the picture while he is so focused on writing his novel and ignoring Nore's suspicions. Which is necessary to the plot, but boy, did I want to knock some sense into Nore's dad!
The writing builds up the atmosphere and the tension masterfully in this captivating and suspenseful read. I think the ending perfectly tied up all the loose ends and was true to the character arcs. I was nervous about being disappointed by the ending of this story because it seemed like it would be difficult to create a satisfying ending when so much was at stake and things looked so hopeless for Nore, but the ending is pretty much perfect.