This third book in Shield’s continuing supernatural series (Immortal, 2009, etc.) can feed the needs only of those who crave 100-percent full gothic fiction.
With good and evil witches’ covens, an ancient Stonehenge-like circle, a magically sealed attic room, an abbey turned school and romance both natural and supernatural, the author does her best to include every convention of the genre. This book focuses on Sarah, a part-gypsy–turned-lady student and member of the good witches’ coven, who struggles to keep the group together when best friend Evie tries to bow out. The main bad witch, thought vanquished in the previous installment, returns to wreak havoc. Havoc includes, in the most imaginative portion of the book, tempting Sarah into mysterious caves where gnomelike underground rock creatures can capture her and hold her forever. Gothic conventions continue as riders gallop wildly across the moors, ghosts appear when summoned and every kiss equals an out-of-body experience. Place names typically include y’s or double f’s or both, as in “Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies,” the novel’s setting. Emotions, romances and dramatic situations turn on and off with the sudden intensity of a melodramatic silent movie from the 19-teens, a scenario also called to mind by much of the dialogue.
Some readers will enjoy it, especially those with little experience in the genre. It’s all been done, better. (Supernatural romance. 12 & up)