So remember how I said I went a little crazy on BookBub before I got tons of free books and more than a couple samples of books on sale? And then I bought 2 full books because I liked the 2 samples I had read?
It didn’t stop there.
I liked one author so much I got samples of her other works and then ended up buying another one of hers. I stuck with the books that were on sale for 99c though so I’m not completely out of mind. Just…mostly. I don’t want to see my next Amazon bill.
“Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, POPPY, THE ISLAND, VOICES, STRUCK, and BETWEEN. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s swinging from a trapeze, or taking pictures of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep.”
I found The Island first and found it refreshingly simple. True, at times it was a little too simple. The ending for example. It could have been drawn out a bit more…perhaps 50-100 pages. The story wrapped up a little too quickly, as if Ms Johal wanted to hurry it along or something. I’m not the author so I can’t say why she didn’t spend more time with the end.
The ending was good, my excitement never abated. The problem was that, instead of jumping into the water, Johal took the time to slip in starting with her toes. I liked the pacing and how we only got glimpses and wonderings until the late middle. But then Emma figures everything out in a day? Such a tiny, insignificant island but there’s such a detailed history known of the tribe who lived there? The tribe was wiped out. Kaputt. Yet they left quite a detailed legend for a library to have. Legends are generally not very detailed but that one was.
There’s more to it than a library and a description but I don’t want to give spoilers. Suffice it to say that it seemed too easy and, while I reveled in the rest of the story, I couldn’t believe that part.
However, that’s my only beef with the book. The rest of it was exciting and relatable. I found my heart thumping and my adrenaline pumping at the most mundane, normal parts. No monsters, no weird occurrences – just a woman trying to figure out how to deal with a jerk and how to break news to her friend.
Johal really made her characters relatable. I especially enjoyed the blooming romance. It wasn’t a main topic and it wasn’t overdone. It just…bloomed. It was super cute.
Having enjoyed the previous book so much, I found another of Johal’s books and tried that one.
Struck was just as enjoyable without the disappointment of an ending that was too simple. No secluded islands this time. This story is set in the midst of San Francisco. Action starts off faster this time around but never lags the whole way through.
There was a bit of a convenient coincidence toward the end for how to defeat the baddie, but, while I raise my eyebrow at it, I’m not going to complain because it didn’t really hurry things along.
Several times I wanted to smack Gwynneth around and force her to open up to people, but her personality was solidly shown…that she’s anything but like me. I can’t keep something to myself (if it’s about myself) to save my life. I burn with the need to tell someone if I have a problem and it doesn’t let up until I’ve shared. She’s the kind of person who’d probably die before spilling the beans.
And that brings me to the one thing that I frowned upon in this book. Johal’s method of creating tension was to have Gwynneth protect her loved ones by lying to them and not tell them anything of what’s going on. While the rest of the story is original and fresh, this tactic isn’t. I’ve seen it done so often in the past and it never protects people; it just hurts them.
People always prefer to have the truth given to them, not to be lied to and pushed away for protection (in my experience). If a loved one had a choice, they would choose to stand with you and try to help you even at the cost of themselves. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t love you very much I think and you’re probably better off without them.
However, this kind of tactic does tie in with Gwynneth’s personality so I’m not going to harp on it.
My goodness these two books were so much fun for me to read! Simple yet engrossing. None of the hoity-toity smarty pants feel to it that so many established super successful authors adopt. No 500 pages of unnecessary back story and extraneous details. I don’t need to know where the demons come from or how they got into our world. I don’t need a huge deal made about sending them back or trapping them. It’s more believable for me that an average, every day person isn’t able to eradicate a demon or a monster.
So if you like horror/paranormal books like the ones I’ve reviewed, go give Clarissa Johal a look. They’re not long books – less than 300 pages. Fun and exciting to read. For me at least.