Angels Fall
Birthright
Black Rose
Blue Smoke
Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Carolina Moon
Chesapeake Blue
Considering Kate
Cordina's Crown Jewel
Dance of the Gods
Dance Upon the Air
Daring To Dream
Enchanted
Face the Fire
Finding the Dream
From The Heart
Heart of the Sea
Hidden Star
Holding the Dream
Homeport
Inner Harbor
Irish Rebel
Jewels of the Sun
Key of Knowledge
Key of Light
Key of Valor
The MacGregor Brides
The MacGregor Grooms
The MacGregors Alan~Grant
Megan's Mate
Midnight Bayou
Montana Sky
Morrigan's Cross
Northern Lights
Once Upon a Castle
The Perfect Neighbor
The Reef
Remember When
Rising Tides
River's End
Sanctuary
Seaswept
Secret Star
Tears of the Moon
Three Fates
True Betrayals
Valley of Silence
The Villa
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

 
Blood Brothers
by Nora Roberts
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN  978-0515143805
****
Book one of the Sign of Seven trilogy, and arguably Roberts' finest work since Birthright and her best trilogy since the nineties, introduces us to the haunted history of Hawkins Hollow, Maryland.

Actually, history has a way of invading Hawkins Hollow once every seven years.  Since three young boys, out to celebrate their tenth birthday, became blood brothers and awakened a demon.  Now, during the first week of July of every seventh year, the town goes crazy.  Literally.  And each succeeding occasion gets worse and starts earlier.

Caleb Hawkins is descended from the original Hawkins of the Hollow, and takes that responsibility seriously.  Cal takes all of his responsibilities seriously, especially he and his friends' continual search for a way to save Hawkins Hollow from itself and the dark wolf/boy demon that stalks it.

Quinn Black writes books on the supernatural; she's a bit of a ghosthunter, and she's got an edge.  Like Cal, Fox, and Gage, Quinn's got a little bit of a psychic talent, and her knack is for seeing the events that led to a person's death.  She's come to Hawkins Hollow to tell their story—their ugly past and dangerous present.  Immediately, Quinn is affected by the demon, which is unusual—generally, only Caleb, Fox, and Gage see the demon, a phenomenon that is especially odd given how early in the year it is.

When two other women are drawn to the Hollow, and Gage wanders home early, the six quickly realize there are larger powers at stake, and that this demon and the people who subdued it more than three centuries ago are largely involved in what will happen with the future.

I have to allow for the fact that I live in a creaky one-hundred-year-old house and was reading this book overnight, but it made me shiver.  It is a little Nora Roberts-meets-Stephen King, but it works.  As always, Roberts has created fabulous characters who have genuine warmth and humor.  And though the trilogies have grown to be fairly predictable, at least there's the horror element popping up unexpectedly to keep you on your toes.  The Hawkins Hollow history is enough alone to give many readers a chill.

It must be said that this book (and one would assume, the next two), does lean a little more toward the men.  Quinn had just as much airplay as Cal, but Caleb's feelings and life and dreams are a bigger part of the whole, despite the fact that an effort is made to give the three women a bigger part; I do feel that the women—Quinn, Layla, and Cybil—will have more say later, as their portion of the local history was just developing at the end of Blood Brothers.  The relationship between Gage, Cal, and Fox is as much fun as—if not more—than the women at this point anyway.  Their relationships with their respective families is just as interesting; Roberts has a knack for making family histories available without dragging the plot down with an overabundance of information.  The dialogue, as her readers have come to expect, is dead-on; and if I hadn't been such a fan of her earlier works, this may very well have been a five-hearter.

--Sarrah Knight


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