Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Blog Tour: Spectral by Shannon Duffy

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Buy the book: Kindle ; Nook ; Google ; Smashwords ; PDF

Tribute Books invited me to join this tour, I saw the book cover and knew there was no way I could say no. Just look at that gorgeous cover! It was cover-lust at first sight.

Title: Spectral
Author: Shannon Duffy
Publisher: Tribute Books
Target Audience: YA
Genre: Paranormal romance
Length: 242 pages

Story: Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along. 

As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

Thoughts and impressions: This book left me feeling torn on two very important levels. I say very important because that’s what the story focused on. The main idea behind the plot was fabulous. Books about witches have not really stormed the market yet so it’s still possible to come up with an idea and have it be very original. I found that to be the case here and I loved how witchcraft was presented. I especially loved how red herrings were put in place to lead you on a wild goose chase about the internal structure of the convent that features as a driving force behind events here. On the other hand, the romance was far too in-your-face for my tastes. I’m going to start by addressing why the romance was not for me.

The best kind of romance, to my mind, is one that evolves slowly. The two characters get to know each other, a kindling attraction becomes something more, and when it is finally acted upon you feel fulfilled as the reader. That was not the case in this book. In fact, here it was completely the other way around. When Jewel first laid eyes on Chase, it was so transparent as to be laughable. Of a group of youths, he is the only one to be described. The next day she catches sight of some other guy and again it’s lust at first sight. I’m not a fan of insta-love at the best of times but for it to be used in tangent with a love triangle already means that the romance aspect won’t appeal to me. This was reinforced by the fact that both attractions were based on nothing more than how “hot” each guy looked. Trust me when I say that each and every time that either of these two boys comes into the story, the word “hot” will be in there too. Sometimes it’s even about how “totally hot” they look. At the best of times, “hot” used as a term to describe someone’s physical attractiveness does not appeal to me, but when overused as it was here it got to the point where I wanted to remove it from the author’s vocabulary.

Beyond this, both romances never get anywhere beyond shallow. Jewel manages to witter on about them to some length, but Chase always seemed like a third wheel to me, and never really seemed to serve a purpose other than that of being “the other man”. He did play a small role in things in the second half, but that could easily have been filled by a different character who wasn’t a romantic interest. Roman had absolutely nothing substantial backing his supposed love for Jewel. Sure, I remember being a teen and living on attraction pushed upon me by my hormones, but this took things to a whole new level.

Balancing this out was my interest in the actual plot. I really liked the basis for this story and how Jewel managed to go from a character knowing nothing about anything to one who was strong in her own right and managed to uncover the answers using her own unconventional means. Occasionally she did border on being a bit too stupid for it to really sell me – like jumping into a car with a stranger while being stalked by some other stranger – but I was able to look past these small moments.

The witchcraft was what really sold me. I’ve always preferred witches to vampires and the lore behind the story did not disappoint here. The author started out with a good idea and she wove a strong plot from it that was kept going at a fast pace as Jewel uncovered more secrets about her identity, heritage and role in wiccan society. The witchcraft was not too far-fetched as to make it unbelievable and my initial reaction to how certain abilities were obviously far inferior to others was proven completely wrong when the author completely blind-sided me with how powerful these seemingly boring abilities could be.

Jewel, if you overlook her occasional moments of stupidity and the lack of vocabulary to be able to describe a man’s attractiveness beyond “hot”, was a good character who didn’t rely on others to get her where she needed to be. She discovered a fount of independence within herself and though she was in a sticky situation, she never gave in. What’s more, her pure and tender love for her little brother was so endearing that it made the character just that much more realistic and endearing to me in turn. Jayden was quite possibly the best character in the whole book!

Style: From time to time it was too informal for my tastes. I’m usually ok with informal styles, such as in the Georgia Nicholson books or Immortal Beloved, but this one just bugged the grumpy grammarian in me rather than amusing me. Possibly this was because in the other two books mentioned the narrators are constantly making fun of themselves and their situations via the narrative whereas this particular narrative took itself fairly seriously, which didn’t go hand in hand so well with the style.

Final verdict: I adored the witchcraft in the story. I really didn’t like the romance aspect of it. I’m going to meet in the middle with a brand new 3.5 stars rating.

Extra notes: Some bad language present. No sex.

Find the book on Goodreads here.

About the author:

Shannon Duffy writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of one boy, Gabriel, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping. She is the author of the young adult paranormal romance, SPECTRAL. Her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is scheduled for a January 2013 release.

The publisher:


  1. Great review, Rea! It's a shame the romance was so instant. I don't like that either. I might still give this a go though since it does have lots of positive things. :)

  2. Sounds like a fascinating book! And the first time I saw the cover I felt the same it's on my list for my bday gift cards in august!
    Thanks for the review! <3

  3. The heroine in this book does not seem very mature or strong in my opinion. To me, heroines need to be able to stand on their own two feet. If she's making stupid decisions left and right, then she's not a strong, capable girl. And I'm pretty sure in real life, no one can be that stupid. Or maybe they can, who knows. And another thing. I. Hate. Instant. Romances. Authors need to do a better job of drawing readers into the two characters' relationship. "Insta-love" is not attractive.
    This book upsets me. I won't say any more.
    Thanks for the review!

    Alyssa Susanna


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