I thoroughly enjoyed reading Caryn Larrinaga’s Don’s Hill when it came out, so I was pretty stoked when she contacted me asking if it was possible to mail books to my remote location. A local post office is pretty much my link to the outside world as far as that goes.
She sent an early copy, not asking for anything in return, and by chapter three I knew that I would be writing this review. The cool thing about newer authors is that you can watch both their writing and storytelling improve with each successive book (sometimes), and this one didn’t disappoint.
The main character, Mackenzie Clair, has a pretty special gift of being able to commune with the dead. Being new to the occult community, however, she carries with her a lot of naiveté that doesn’t go unnoticed by the knowledgeable reader. For a minute, I even suspected Caryn of skipping out on some of her homework while writing the book, but remembered that I got that impression last time as well, at first. Mackenzie may not know heads from tails about certain things, but the author brings so much to light through each character interaction that you can see the main character for what she is.
Caryn doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to staying “in character.” She doesn’t slip up a single time by accidentally delivering knowledge to Mac that the character shouldn’t be privy to. And that goes for all of her characters. Each one appears in 3-D without any cardboard cutouts and somehow without draining the reader by going into long spans of back story. A sort of fragmented cohesion ripples through the text that makes the town of Donn’s Hill come alive on the page, and we can truly see the story through Mackenzie’s eyes.
About the plot. Mac had already found two dead bodies in the last book, and she’s become something of a joke around the local police department as a magnet for corpses. That joke stops cold when a murder takes place that can’t be explained by evil spirits. Someone in town has done the deed, nearly everyone seems to have a motive, and Mackenzie is trapped right in the middle once again. I won’t reveal much more on that front, as the victim caught me a little off guard and I don’t want to spoil it.
Combine the murder mystery with a harassing spiritual entity, and you have a story that could send ripples down all those dark places in your inner psyche.
There’s so much happening that the book is a little hard to put down, and the reader catches a case of Mackenzie’s troubles, worrying about so much that it’s hard to narrow the focus. There’s danger around every corner, her team is falling apart, and she’s got to do something about all of it before the tides of darkness and the crisp chill of a cell overtake her for good.
The main bullet point here? Read this book. Best part is: it comes out today!
You can order it here: Amazon Link