In the vein of authors like Deborah Harkness and Katherine Howe, magic and reality are perfectly blended in bookseller Chrysler Szarlan’s debut novel, The Hawley Book of the Dead—the first installment in a planned quartet. Revelation “Reve” Dyer is a woman graced with a touch of magic, but plagued by a malicious spirit that seeks to destroy her.
After her magician husband Jeremy is murdered, Reve and her three daughters flee their magic act and their lives in Las Vegas, seeking sanctuary at the site of her childhood adventures—the enchanting, possibly enchanted, forest of Hawley Five Corners in Massachusetts. Reve is quickly drawn to a mysterious book that could hold the key to her family’s hidden powers. But will the book help her, or aid in her destruction?
Szarlan, who lives near the Hawley woods, renders the forest in stunning detail and accurately depicts the insular experience of New England life to slowly build a sense of relentless tension. As the danger to Reve’s life and family increases, the novel becomes ever more engrossing: This brave and independent character is worthy of admiration as well as survival.
Szarlan conjures the ties that bind the past and the present, as well as the love that keeps a family together—creating a magic all her own and making The Hawley Book of the Dead a novel well worth discovering.