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The Hawley Book of the Dead    by Chrysler Szarlan order for
Hawley Book of the Dead
by Chrysler Szarlan
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Chrysler Szarlan's The Hawley Book of the Dead is an enticing urban fantasy that's all about magic - magic tricks and the real thing. The opening sentence is a shocker that grabs readers by the throat: 'On the day I killed my husband, the scent of lilacs startled me awake.'

Why did Revelation 'Reve' Dyer kill her husband Jeremy? She loved him, and their three young daughters (teen twins Grace and Fai and ten-year-old Caleigh) dearly. Reve and Jeremy had worked together as world renowned illusionists (the Amazing Maskelynes) and their show in Las Vegas always drew crowds. But someone sabotaged Reve's trick pistol, loading it with real bullets - and she shot Jeremy on stage.

After the tragedy, fearing for her family's safety, Reve fled with her daughters and Jeremy's gay cousin Nathan (who helped with the show and tutored the girls) home to Hawley Five Corners. Her grandmother had also summoned her back, warning her against the Fetch, 'a creature made from earth by a wizard, meant to 'fetch' a living person to the fairy world.'

The Dyer women had always had extraordinary gifts. Reve's is to disappear, to 'enter the passageway to another world.' In Hawley Five Corners, she explores her magical heritage as well as the mystery of the sudden abandonment of the village many years before and the disappearance of six young girls that preceded it. She also reconnects with her old boyfriend, Jolon Adair, now chief of police. Why did he cut off contact with her so many years before?

Young Caleigh has her own gift, to weave string in order to influence events - a magician, Setekh, once gave her special white string, that she keeps with her at all times. She also has visions. And Reve receives threats, relating to an old friend, Maggie, who died, after they both investigated a secret government underground installation.

The author pulls all these loose plot threads together to weave a stunning conclusion to her story, as Reve's worst fears are realized and the Fetch strikes close to home. But she fights back, with her own and her daughter's talent and with the Hawley Book of the Dead, of which she is the Keeper. Don't miss this excellent urban fantasy - it's a keeper too.

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