This is the first book in the Anna Wolfe Series by Casey Keen. I received it during a book tour and said that I would give an honest review. However, being totally honest, I had a lot of problems with this book. To be fair to the author and the book tour, I waited until the tour was over to post this review.
The book opens on the lead character, Anna Wolfe in the middle of a nightmare. One she has almost every night. She describes an unholy landscape filled with rivers of lava, jagged mountains and confusion and anxiety. Sometimes she is injured in the dream, sometimes she escapes harm. But always, there is a malevolence in the air that scares her. Anna has lived with this as long as she can remember.
Next up she also give us a description of growing up and going to school, unable to make friends because of how "odd" she was. Strange things would happen around her and if she concentrated she could move things with her mind. Anna even managed to shatter her eighth grade classroom windows because she was being teased and mocked by her classmates. The claim was that people were just able to sense the wrong-ness about her.
Then we fast forward 16 years. Anna is having a rare night out with her visiting family. One younger sister is going on and on about her wedding and allows Anna to zone out. She is feeling depressed about a recent break up with her boyfriend. Anna is trying to not fight with Cara about the monopolization of the conversation with wedding plans when Anna has to rush off to the restroom due to agonizing cramps. These cramps have been ongoing for awhile, but getting more intense over time. She finally heads back to the table and her other sister Janie asks to stay with her until the wedding. Anna agrees after some argument.
Okay, by this point we were on page 15 and the first line of dialogue didn't happen till page 8. I was getting very frustrated with the shear amount of info dump going on. And it just never got any better. There is very little dialogue to be had in the entire book. This was a major downer for me, as I love clever and witty dialogue.
Some examples of my further frustration include the unrealistic running of her coffee shop. Anna lives almost an hour away from her shop, yet she opens at 6 am till 10 pm most every day, and manages to have time for drinks after work. Really? When the hell does she manage to sleep? Plus there seem to be no employees except one "best" friend who works with her during the busiest parts of the day and on Anna's day off. There was a mention of baked goods smelling good, but no mention of where they came from. This shop is supposed to be such a large part of her life, her pride and joy, and yet what little information we get about it seems so unlikely and contradictory I couldn't wrap my head around it. I understand that the main story isn't about the coffee shop, but when major scene happen in it, it should be portrayed accurately.
Then there is Anna's cramps and nightmares. Apparently she has never told her family about them. At all. Ever. Later we find out that her parents knew that she was going to be having physical issues but never bothered to tell her, but they told her sister Janie. They knew that as it got closer to her birthday the problems would increase, but they waited for her to come to them. Apparently they didn't want to "worry or alarm" Anna.
Finally, I just couldn't seem to connect with the character of Anna. I kept getting Mary Sue vibes. The further we went in the story the more and more she seemed to be able to do. There was a scene where Roman was going to try and teach Anna some self-defense manuvers and "wham" she just automatically started doing it. Jumping over trees and almost out running the werewolf? No problem. Out one night with her friend and employee, they get chased by demons and she manages to out drive them and get away, while half drunk in the dark in unfamiliar territory. Sure. Tells her friend that she is apparently a hereditary witch with supernatural powers, does friend freak out? Nope. Just says, "I see ghosts, so I have issues too." It was just too much for me.
I wanted to like this book - the premise sounded fun, the cover looked great, and I got it for free for reviewing it. And yet I didn't. Not even a little bit. There is potential here, but the execution left a lot to be desired. I gave this book 1 star on Goodreads. It just had too many flaws for me to find any enjoyment in.