Monday, July 23, 2012

To the Cliffside by B. Jane Lawson

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

To the Cliffside by B. Jane Lawson
To the Cliffside by B. Jane Lawson
eARC: 248 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: September 2011

Series: Morganna Cork #1

Source: Author

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
Morganna Cork has lived twenty-four uneventful years in Los Angeles under the thumb of her overbearing mother. The only thing barring her from a totally average existence is that she’s got a secret, magical ability to heal herself and others. An encounter with her mother results in exile to the small coastal town of Puesta del Sol. There, she will be a guest and employee at the Cliffside Inn, owned by her estranged cousin Maeve. Morganna resigns herself to a winter of work and boredom in this one-horse town. Everything changes when she accidentally pulls into the driveway of the devastatingly sexy Callupo Stone. Instantly she is attracted to the infuriating man who makes no bones about his lack of interest, even if he seems to be right behind her at every turn. The sparks fly as she does her best to thwart his every attempt to corral her. She soon discovers that she’s not the only one with gifts. There is an entire community of people known as Magicks, each unique and powerful in their own right. As Morganna undertakes a journey of self-discovery and determination, she befriends Anya, the spunky, sassy, sometimes employee of the Cliffside and bearer of town gossip. Together, they begin to unearth the mysteries surrounding the strange reappearance of a vindictive villain, on a quest for power, in which Morganna finds herself directly in the middle. Simultaneously, they witness the succession struggles of a secret society, in which Callupo and many of their close friends are members, whose existence and purpose eludes them. Morganna undergoes a radical transformation of self as she becomes an unsuspecting participant in a Magickal war that has been thirty years in the making.

I hate to say it but you never know what you’re going to get with self-published work. Sometimes the books are great and sometimes they could use a bit more polishing. Thankfully, TO THE CLIFFSIDE falls more towards the former category than the latter: B. Jane’s debut is a fun, fluffy story with nice characters, some romance, and a paranormal smackdown. I ended up reading the whole book in a single evening (which is normal for me when I like a book) and think you could do the same if you’re a fan of paranormal chick lit.

Morganna is a pleasant protagonist. At the start of the novel, she moves to Puesta del Sol to meet her cousin and settle into her new life. She thinks she’s there to work at an inn but she ends up getting wrapped up in a family battle of good versus evil. Along the way, Morganna also learns more about her healing powers and her family history. She spends a lot of the novel discovering herself and her roots and I enjoyed the insights we got into her ancestors.

Funnily enough, though, my favourite characters were secondary in the novel. If I had to choose two, I’d go with Anya and Ralph. Anya also works at the inn and she quickly won me over with her infectious bubbliness and best-girlfriend-ever qualities. Similarly, I love Ralph for his hidden depths. I was less drawn to Morganna and Callupo, the main pair of the novel. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them well enough, but I didn’t really connect to them. I think they’re nice people but I wasn’t invested in their romance or survival. They just came off as bland and I was really more interested in what was going on with Anya and her love life.

In terms of the great Magickal war that the cover copy mentions, I was a little underwhelmed. There were moments where the threat seemed real and dangerous but I wasn’t all that worried about the characters, not even in the climatic final scenes. I think this was partially because I wasn’t terribly invested in Morganna and her fate and partially because of the way the book is written. Morganna experiences a lot of flashes of other people’s memories and experiences and it was sometimes difficult for me to tell whether a bad moment was something Morganna was feeling or actually experiencing.

Despite these criticisms, I really did enjoy reading TO THE CLIFFSIDE. It’s a solid debut and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon and I think it would appeal to readers who enjoy their supernatural on the fluffy side. Check out the excerpt below and see if TO THE CLIFFSIDE is for you.

 Read an excerpt

Jenn

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Born and raised in the Toronto area, Jenn is now in northeast England after a 10 year stop in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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