Thursday, January 23, 2014
Review: Brush of Shade (The Whisperer's Chronicles, #1) by Jan Harman
Ever since losing her parents in a tragic car accident that left her walking with crutches and taking medication for pain and anxiety among other things, Olivia Pepperdine has seen and heard things. Flashes out of the corner of her eye. Horrible voice that haunt her nightmares. Although the medications take the edge off, they can't completely mask the growing concern that Olivia has that she's going insane. Adding to the tragedy, Olivia lost her brother to another car accident a few years before, and now alone, she comes to live with her Aunt Clare in Spring Valley, a remote town harboring a lot of secrets, many of which link directly to Olivia and her family.
Upon arrival, Olivia is met with mixed reactions from the townspeople. Some people seem to be elated to have her there, paying for her groceries and going out of their way to come up and say hello in the store or on the street. Others seem openly disgusted, staring, sneering, and some even going so far as to tell her to her face that she doesn't belong here. As Olivia works to make sense of the bizarre treatment, she starts to realize that there was a lot that she didn't know about her father and that her family had a strong connection, even in recent times, to this town she had never heard of.
Trying for normal and determined to convince herself she's not crazy, Olivia soon befriends Trent, a popular guy at school who is very forward and a little reckless. Like many of the townsfolk, Trent often appears to be expecting something of Olivia and thoroughly confuses her when he keeps referencing the fact that she has a lot of money, something Olivia knows that she does not. Olivia also takes an after-school job at Hattie's store, working alongside the mysteriously handsome Shade, a man who holds his own secrets and connections to this bizarre town. Shade always seems to be around, offering a shoulder to cry on and saving Olivia from any perils that come her way. Olivia tries to write off his seeming devotion by saying that there's no way he could be interested in a mere high school girl, but she soon finds out that her connection to him might have deeper roots.
Although I really liked the premise of this book, I'm not sure I connected with the execution as much as I would have liked to. I really wanted Olivia to take a stand and either fight for her freedom or take over her birthright position in the society. As it stands, I feel like her character is to wishy-washy and at times annoyingly emotional. If she complained about being crazy one more time, I think I would have lost it! Ironically enough, these are some of the same complaints that Shadow, Shade's brooding brother, had about her as well. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he was my favorite character. I also felt something lacking in Shade and Olivia's relationship. While there was definitely attraction on her part, and a pronounced eternal devotion on his, I felt like Olivia spent too much time trying to convince it away. Perhaps some scenes from Shade's point of view might have filled this void of emotion that I noticed. The character of Trent really infuriated me at times. He seemed like a chauvinistic pig and I couldn't quite understand Olivia's attraction to him or the fact that she kept going back to him and forgiving him for his buttheadedness (yeah, spell-check really didn't like that one!). I've also had a problem with third wheels lately, so maybe I'm just being biased.
Despite some of the shortcomings, it is a very interesting concept. I have a feeling I'll be reading the next installment just to see where the author takes this story line so I can watch Olivia hopefully come into her own, see how the Olivia-Shade relationship develops (and perhaps the Olivia-Shadow relationship as well!) and to see how the people of Spring Valley adapt to Olivia as their leader.