Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Blackbird in the Reeds
SERIES: The Rowan Harbor Cycle #1
AUTHOR: Sam Burns
LENGTH: 188 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 4, 2018
Devon Murphy has never believed that there were fairies at the bottom of the garden, but when he’s in an accident on his way to his grandmother’s house and comes face to face with the biggest, baddest wolf he’s ever seen, he’s forced to reconsider.
When his grandmother asks him to look into a string of suspicious accidents, he finds a much bigger mystery to unravel. From his childhood best friend to the too-attractive Deputy Wade Hunter, everyone in Rowan Harbor seems to have something to hide. Devon has to get to the bottom of it all before the accidents turn deadly.
Who knew that such a small town could hold such big secrets?
Devon Murphy has been away from Rowan Harbor for most of his adult life. Wandering, mostly, unable to find a place that he fits or people that he can trust to really care for him. When his grandmother calls asking–cryptically–for him to come back, he loads up his car and heads back west to Oregon. Where he almost hits a deer, crashes his car, breaks his wrist, and talks to what he can only presume is a hallucination of a very helpful wolf. And that isn’t even the oddest part of his stay in Rowan Harbor. It seems like everyone in town has a secret, including Devon–except he has no clue what that secret is. But everyone seems intent on him staying and filling some vague roll in the town hierarchy.
For once I actually get a chance to review one of Sam Burns books before they have already been out for a month. So, what did I think of this new series from Burns? Mostly that is an excellent set up to a new series, and pretty decent story on its own merits.
While not my favorite book from Burns so far, I really did enjoy it. It has the same light tone as her previous series, but this time with a bit more magic to it. And it left me eagerly awaiting further books in her The Rowan Harbor Cycle, seeing as there are plenty of interesting side plots and characters to explore in further depth.
My main issue with this book is that there seems to be a rather abrupt shift in focus about 2/3 of the way thru the story. The majority of the book is surrounding the mystery of what the hell is going on in Rowan Harbor, especially in regards to Devon himself as well as the “accidents” happening to the new school teacher that Devon is asked to look in on. And while I had a few niggles about this section of the book (mostly in regards to wondering why in the world no one just told Devon the secret) it was well paced and I was really looking forward pulling apart this mystery. And then with about a quarter of the book left we are kinda just handed the answers to almost everything and it was extremely anticlimactic.
It also left a rather large plot thread just hanging in regards to the series of events that happened in the town 25 years ago. I can only hope that this gets looked at in further books in the series, or else it is just going to drive me mad.
This bit of fumbling with the plot, and the dramatic tension that just got cut off, is pretty much why this only ended up being 3.5 stars. It was still a very well written story though, outside of those two considerations. I am hooked into the series, and am hoping that this world gets more fleshed out in book two whenever it comes along.