Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery
Pub. Date: July 13, 2010
Goodreads says, "His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her. Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry. After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all. But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life."
Persephone Archer, otherwise known as Phe, is a dealing with the sudden death of her sister, Athena. Her death is shrouded in mystery and Phe is trying to piece it all together. Athena's last diary entry discussed a prep school called Devenish, located in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts, many miles away from where they live in Los Angeles. Phe is also dealing with very vivid and scary dreams which started as soon as Athena died. There's nothing left in LA for Phe; her parents have checked out after Athena's death and her friendships are falling apart. She decides to go to Shadow Hills and enroll at Devenish. Ultimately, Phe tries to figure out why her sister would have referenced this place in her diary; she's hoping there will be something there that will help her make sense of everything. But once she gets to Shadow Hills, she is even more confused by its ominous cemetery and small town with weird locals that are hiding secrets. The more and more she searches for answers, the deeper she falls into the town's mysteries. Phe meets a dreamy guy named Zach, but oddly enough, she recognizes him from one of her dreams, which completely freaks her out, but she can't deny the attraction she feels for him. On top of it, she is starting to realizes that the townspeople, including Zach, posses some unusual abilities, which makes Shadow Hills even more creepy. Anastasia Hopcus' debut novel, Shadow Hills, is definitely a paranormal page-ripper, but what makes it so different than the other novels in its genre is the fact that there are no werewolves or vampires present in it at all!
This book has received so much blogosphere buzz! I was nervous to start it, because I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype; however, I was pleasantly surprised. Hopcus presented her readers with a unique idea that was cloaked in mystery. I wasn't sure where she was taking the story, which I enjoyed. Each page turn was a suspenseful surprise. Hopcus' writing style was entertaining and had me turning the pages late into the night.
The characters were amusing, especially Phe and Zach. Their relationship never seemed too forced or too quick like a lot of the YA relationships out there. Also, I really liked a lot of the secondary characters, such as rich girl Adriana and her obsession with couture. Then there's computer geek, Toy, and surfer-dude, Graham that were also very likable. In fact, I wish they were included more in the novel, because I found them to be especially entertaining. And of course there's the mean girl that I loved to hate: Corinne, Zach's sister. Every school needs a mean girl like Corinne, but I felt like Zach was too influenced by his sister at times. Lets just say that Corinne would be the sister-in-law from hell. Hands down.
My only issue with the novel was Phe's breaking and entering obsession. It became very Nancy Drew-ish for me; it never bothered me, but I wondered how the heck did she not get caught?! Because of that, it seemed forced and not believable at times, but like I said, it never really disturbed me to the point where it took away from the story.
All in all, Anastasia Hopcus' Shadow Hills was extremely engaging and an A+ mystery. I finished it quickly and for once, I honestly couldn't predict where the story was going. It kept my full attention and interest up to the last page! I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a sequel, although Hopcus' website says that there is nothing official to announce yet. If you are like me and you need a break from the usual vampires, werewolves, and fairies, check out Shadow Hills this summer. It's an imaginative, paranormal mystery, unlike any that I've read before. It shouldn't be missed!
*Buy Shadow Hills
*Read an excerpt here
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GIVEAWAY: I have an extra copy to give away to one lucky reader! You must be a follower of my blog and it's for US followers only. If you are an international follower, check out my other international giveaway! The deadline for my Shadow Hills giveaway is 8/15/10 at midnight EST. I will use random.org to determine the winner and I will email the winner on 8/16/10. Good luck and thanks for following my blog. I appreciate it.