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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review of LJ Seely's Awaken (Divine Hunter Series Book 1)

FREE at the time this review was posted:  

Michael Warden used to live a normal life. A successful entrepreneur he had everything until his life got taken away from him–Literally. Now he is trapped in a world that shouldn't exist, fighting things that should only exist in nightmares in a quest to find out the truth about what happened to him. 

Lacy Holloway is finally content in the little town of Oakland, Garrett Co. Working at the local university, she has finally allowed herself to move on from the one thing that had haunted her past. Aside from an unsettling string of suicides at her place of work, Lacy is happy. Then a new colleague enters her life. Michael is handsome, smart and their friendship is instant...Easy. 

That is, until another student attempts to take her own life and Lacy is hurled into a world of nightmares which she soon discovers Michael is already a part of. As they are forced to face demons, both the supernatural and the emotional kind, they also have to face the realization that they are both beginning to feel things for each other that neither of them expected, least of all Michael. As well as trying not to fall too deeply for the woman who has captivated him, he is shocked to discover things about his very existence that could change both their lives and the world as they know it. 

*This book contains some Adult situations and is recommended for age 17+*

Upon reading this book, I had no clue what to think of it.  I must admit, though I prefer not to judge a book by its cover, that the artwork had me under a certain spell.  It was pretty amazing, something of which I'd be quite proud.  Most covers aren't quite accurate of the characters, but one can tell that LJ Sealey paid close attention to detail to ensure her cover designer matched the description.  
Now, on to the story.  I will do my best to avoid spoilers.  
Before one reaches the first chapter, the author begins with a quote, specifically a quote from the Book of Proverbs in the King James Bible.  "A man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps..." (Proverbs 16:9).  I do believe that a well-placed quote is a very good tool in which the author can use to set the tone of the book.  Sealey does this perfectly.  Very well executed.
One important element in any novel, novella, or story is adherence to a specific timeline, if an author sets one.  Sealey opens her first chapter establishing the beginning of a timeline.  Through the entire book, I could find no fault or deviation from said timeline (which as an author myself, I know this is a struggle...which is why I rarely specify one in such detail as Sealey did in this novel in my own books, allowing the reader to use his/her imagination).  

Another very important element in any story is to introduce the characters.  Now, I would have liked to see more interaction to SHOW the characters in the beginning, but I have seen MUCH worse.  On a scale of 1-10 in skill of introducing the characters, I'd give Sealey an 8.  This could be a personal preference of mine getting in the way of a perfect 10...then again, maybe not.  That's up to you, my fellow readers.  However, it isn't long before Sealey DOES get to the action.
Once Sealey introduces Lacy, the character in which there is significant romantic tension with Michael, she seems to step up her game and involves more action there.  And speaking of romantic tension---WOWZA!!!  What an amazing job!!!  Still at 60%, the reader is VERY aware of the tension.  One could almost FEEL the internal struggle as each character tried to fight off their feelings.  

Character depth and development--I realize that it sounds like I'm picking this apart, and I kind of am.  Each character has an amazingly torrential back story.  Michael's is that he was ripped from this world early.  Lacy's is from her childhood.  What's really interesting is how the author connects the two not only in the present, but also having them have an interaction in the past that I, for one, certainly did NOT see coming.  It also, on a grander scale, makes you think about those moments when you brush against a stranger on the way into a store, how you say "excuse me", and go on your merry way.  What if you met that stranger ten or even twenty years later and they had such a huge impact on your life?  
I will stop here on using the story as examples as I fear spoilers, and I HATE spoilers.  I will tell you this, though:  There is a significant depth to the story.  This book is not "just a novel".  No, it is pure literature in its rawest form.  With just a hair more of polishing (very MINOR things here and there) of the few things I happened to notice as a reader LOOKING for errors, I do believe this book/series could actually become on of this generation's few timeless classics.