Book Review

Crystal Shadows, Gripping New Blood by R.J. Parker


Sarah Field lives alone with her dad, a teacher at her school. The two of them share a close bond and, unusually, both have the same birthday, which they also share with Sarah’s grandfather, who died when Sarah was small. Sarah knows very little about her grandfather, and her dad insists on keeping it that way.

However, one night, Sarah finds her dad acting in a mysterious way and also hears strange noises after her dad has gone out. Sarah’s friends come to the rescue to help her investigate, and they make a shocking discovery. Someone is living in the attic! And that someone is none other than Sarah’s grandfather! But, this is no ordinary grandfather…

With the discovery of her grandfather comes the question as to whether Sarah has the power to give life to the amulet – the Telum Deos – that will help to fight the forces of darkness.

This story had a cute Goonies feel. This was a good story and introduction to a series. I am looking forward to reading the rest. With this story being short, the pacing was right on, not too fast and not too slow. There were some choppiness in some transitions, but for myself, it did not bring me out of the story completely.

The main character Sarah was well written, but I would have liked her to be rounded a little more, but given that this was a short fiction, I felt it was is fine. Sarah is a teenager at Lon Chaney Jr. High. She has a close relationship with her dad and share the same birthday with him and her grandfather (I can relate. I share my birthday with my great grandfather). She gets an assignment about her genealogy, but with that assignment, she ended up opening a big can of worms. I liked the character of Sarah. She seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, even with what she finds out about her grandfather. I can see where the author was heading with her. I was glad to see her as a strong character for her age and not whiney like I have read and seen in the past.

Like Sarah, I enjoyed the other characters in this story. Her friends felt real and the friendship chemistry felt strong. They were strong secondary characters and I can not wait to read more about them in the next books. They each have their own personalities and you can tell them apart. Sarah’s father I liked as well. I wished there was a little more built with him, but again with this being a short fiction, the author wrote him well. You can tell the closeness Sarah and her father had throughout this story. I hope the author continues this in the series. The grandfather I fell in love with. I had the actor Terence Stamp pictured in my head for this character. I do not know why lol. He felt the most well-rounded character in this story. The way the author showed his background story was a neat idea. I loved the fact that even though it was a flashback; it did not pull you out of the story.

The amulet – the Telum Deos is an interesting idea. I enjoyed how, as a reader, we discovered the origin and why it is important in the story. Because of this amulet, we, the readers, are introduced to Dracula. The setting in this story is your regular neighborhood vibe. It was not elaborate, but as a reader, you knew enough to help the story move forward.

I enjoyed this story. Introductions to a series are always the set-ups. I recommend it to those who want a Goonies vibe book, fun read, and loveable characters. I loved the corny comic vibes, even though they kind of feel like they came from left field. It helped break up the seriousness of the story. I look forward to the others in this series.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

I give this book a 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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