There's a new paranormal series on the bookshelves in the series starter Legacy of a Dreamer by Allie Jean. This book is action-packed with a bit of romance. Keep reading to get my impressions of this story and learn more about it by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour. Make sure to fill out the form for your chance to win a bookstore GC!
Chantal Breelan is a ward of the state, living under the care of a woman who is cold and heartless. Her past is a mystery, and her future is even more uncertain. She can’t recall why she had been taken from her parents and so she’s left with nothing but an empty hole where her childhood should have been. When she awakens from her nightmares, she’s left with terrible, violent images, as well as a boy whose face is oddly familiar, yet can’t be placed.
Scared and alone, Chantal begins to confide in an imaginary friend – a shadow in the shape of a man who stands in the corner of her room. She is comforted when she believes he listens to her. On her eighteenth birthday, Chantal is forced to leave her foster home. She moves to New York City, but the start of her new life doesn’t begin as smoothly as she’d hoped. One night at a subway station, Chantal meets a young boy who runs away from her, and she’s compelled to follow him down into the tunnels. But this Rabbit Hole reveals a world where reality is a nightmare.
Mathias is a descendant of a Fallen Angel and beholden to wage an unfathomable war against an ancient evil, spawned by greed and spite. A powerful fighter, he and his brethren of Warriors vow to pay recompense for the sins of their fathers by guarding the most precious, piercing light against the darkness – the females of their kind. The Warriors' pledge is to find and protect the Oracles, their sisters and kin. Long have they fought, shedding sweat and blood, hoping that their struggles are not in vain. Yet in his sacrifice and service he may find life’s ultimate reward – a love to surpass all time.
Chantal awoke from her dream, a layer of sweat covering her entire body. She sat up, disoriented and realizing she was in darkness.
Shaking off vague remnants of the horrible nightmare, she tried to regain her bearings.
“Hello?” she called, not expecting an answer. Perhaps somewhere in the back of her mind she hoped that Monica had come back to stay.
There was a small clanking noise from across the room. Maybe it was just the settling of the wood framing, she thought, knowing full well wood didn’t make that kind of noise. She swallowed hard against a thick lump in her throat, her hand trembling as she reached for the new bedside lamp she’d borrowed from Monica. She clicked the dangling cord, but the light didn’t come on.
Chantal panicked, clicking the cord a couple of more times in fast succession. Then, taking a deep, steadying breath, she fumbled with the nightstand drawer, trying to find the old flashlight she kept there as backup.
Finding it, she felt a small spark of relief. But the stupid thing didn’t turn on. She hit the side like she’d done before, but nothing happened. The old batteries had given out.
Why didn’t I pick up more batteries? She silently scolded herself
This felt unnatural, like one of her nightmares. It had happened before, when she thought she’d awoken from her dream, only to realize the nightmares had tricked her, trapping her in a horror film so twisted it had left her anxious for weeks.
The clanking came again, this time more forceful, and she hoped one of her friends from the subway hadn’t followed her home.
“You better be a rat!” she said, and squinted into the darkness, hoping her eyes would adjust. The street lamp outside her apartment offered some help, but the majority of her room was dark and gloomy, congregating by the kitchen where the damn noise came from.
Hating that she felt so terrified and vulnerable, Chantal couldn’t help but look over to Nick’s corner. Maybe his presence would help alleviate her fear. There he was, with his head angled in her direction.
“The lights won’t come on,” she said, speaking to him aloud for the first time now that she lived alone. “I don’t know if that means some boogey man is coming for me, or my landlord needs to fix the connections.”
Silence greeted her, leaving a void both ominous and soothing, and she wasn’t sure if she preferred it to the clanking noise. She snuggled down into bed, pulling the covers up once more.
“You know, I would’ve said I was being ridiculous, but after today, I . . .”
She didn’t want to admit out loud what she’d seen because somehow it would make it all the more real. She glanced at Nick, feeling foolish and tired at the same time. She felt exhaustion from many sources, and she wished she could just sleep without the dreams, without the worries of the real world. Now, she had a whole new element to add to the scenario.
“Why did it come after me?” she asked, staring toward Nick as if his unchanging figure would have all her answers. “What did that . . . boy . . . mean when he said the shadows were coming for me?”
Nick, ever her faithful, silent companion, didn’t offer her anything but something to focus on. The fact that she depended on him was silly, but she couldn’t find it in her to care.
The clanking noise started again, this time in a steady, unwavering beat.
“That’s it,” she said, pulling the covers off her and headed in the direction of the main light switch. She’d figure out what caused the noise once and for all, but as she passed by Nick’s shadow, something caught her attention.
The head of the shadow had moved, as if following her, and she could have sworn she saw what looked like a pair of eyes, and she gasped.
There was a menacing laugh coming from the same direction as the rhythmic noise, and she backed away, terrified. A large shadow that hadn’t been there before took up the majority of her small kitchen. It moved and swayed to the beat of the clanking, like a tree caught in the breeze.
She bit the inside of her lip, a test she did often to make sure she was awake. This felt too much like a nightmare to be real, but the sharp sting and metallic taste of blood told her she was, in fact, awake. Her back met the wall behind her as she spread her fingers out against the plaster, bracing herself and wishing she could find a way out of this.
“It’ssss time, my dear,” an evil voice said from across the room, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She didn’t know what to do or where to go. The door to the hallway was on the opposite side of the apartment, and it was impossible to get there without getting closer to that shadow.
She glanced back in Nick’s direction, not knowing what to do, but he stood there, offering no help, those almost clear eyes holding her gaze. She wanted to tell him to do something if he was real, but an almost imperceptible shake of his shadowed head kept her silent. She bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling.
“What do you want from me?” she asked the moving shadow, her voice quavering in fear.
“Your death,” the thing said, taking a step out of the darkness. “Or the equivalent would be niiiiice.”
It was a grotesque creature wrapped in a thick, dark cloak, and it shuffled from side to side as it moved, its three-toed feet offering a wide base, its bald head holding no eyes or features but a yawning, empty mouth filled with rows of razor-sharp teeth.
The clanking noise got louder as it moved closer, and Chantal noticed something hanging from the front of its robes.
“You like it?” it asked, laughing and holding up the long chain of dangling things that clanked together as it moved. They looked like little baseballs in the dim lighting, but something inside told her they were far more horrendous. “These are the heads of your kin. The ones I found while they were still in infancy.”
She covered her mouth, trying to avoid being sick. The skulls of babies hitting one another produced the sound, and she couldn’t help but let out a little cry. It laughed at her, holding up the makeshift belt so that she could get a better view.
“Don’t feel bad for them, my lamb. They had it easy, probably didn’t even feel a thing. You, on the other hand . . .”
It pulled out a long serrated blade, the edges of it coated in what looked like dried blood. Chantal moved along the wall frantically, trying to find a means of escape.
“Why? Who are you?” she shouted.
“I’m The Sssseeker, my dear. I’m the one who finds your kin and wipes them out.”
“There must be a mistake,” she said, frantic. “I’m not who you think I am.”
“Oh, but you are. I can smell the scent of Grace on you a mile away.”
The creature came closer, its stench nauseating. Chantal wanted to scream but didn’t, not wanting to alarm her neighbors. She wouldn’t drag them into her nightmare.
She had the urge to fight him off but didn’t have any sort of weapon within reach. She could hear Natalie’s voice in her mind telling her countless times to make sure she bought a gun once she reached the city, but Chantal had always brushed the warning off. Now, she wished she’d listened. Hell, even a baseball bat would do right now.
The thing came closer, shuffling steps dragging it across the floor. She glanced toward Nick, hoping that he’d pop out of the shadow and come to rescue her, but he wasn’t there. His silhouette had disappeared, along with any hope she had beforehand.
She scrambled across the wall, heading toward her bed, hoping she could find something to defend herself. She pushed herself across the mattress, keeping the thing in view as she reached for the lamp. He laughed, both of them knowing she was pathetic. He raised his blade as his oozing mouth formed a horrifying smile.
“Excuse me,” a male voice said from behind the cloaked figure, making both the creature and Chantal pause. A man stepped into view, grayskinned, dark-haired, dressed in only a black pair of jeans with those distinct eyes Chantal had seen in the alleyway.
“I think the lady’s made it clear she wants you to back off. Besides, you’re kind of gross.”
The creature lunged at the gray-skinned man, thrusting his blade toward his bare torso. The man spun, melting into the darkness, becoming part of the shadow again. He reappeared behind the creature, yielding a blade of his own.
She will die, Warrior, no matter how many you send to protect her,” the creature said, spitting his dark venom onto the floor as he whipped around in attempt to slice at the man’s lower torso.
“Not by your hand, and not while I’m still around,” the gray man said, hacking his blade through the air and just missing the creature’s melonshaped head.
“You protect her in vain,” it said, landing a punch to the man’s flank.
“She’s survived this long,” the gray man said, plunging his blade deep into the creature’s abdomen. It sputtered, spraying black liquid onto the floor. “And she will survive tonight, just like I said she would.” He twisted the blade, causing the creature let out a gurgled cry, and a torrent of fluid poured from the creature’s terrible mouth, leaving a puddle on the floor.
The thing melted in front of her, joining the filth on the floor. Once the creature had dissolved, the remains sizzled like acid and then disappeared.
The man stood, his blade held out at an angle, the length of it covered in black ooze. His eyes were vacant, his mouth moving as if in prayer. Chantal watched him, horrified and amazed at the same time.
“Nick?” she said. He glanced up and captured her with his angelic eyes.
“You know, I’ve always wondered why you call me that.”
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
Chantal didn't think life could get any worse than being a maid for a nasty foster mother and the numerous nightmares that have plagued her since childhood. Upon leaving the foster care system after aging out, life takes a dramatic turn as the shadows that have surrounded her for years come to life with evil intentions that send her on the run. As a child she always felt as if something was watching over her and comforting her when needed. This sense of comfort kept her sane when the nightmares gave the impression of insanity and she's come to count on this shadowy protection. Out of the shadows, along with evil, comes the one who's always been there for her and in the blink of an eye she's whisked away to safety and an introduction to a savagely brutal world where good and evil battle for women who can see the future. Chantal barely remembers her childhood but now discovers that she's an Oracle and while there are Warriors sworn to protect them, there's also the Fallen looking to use the Oracle's gifts for their gain. Chantal's shadowy protector who she's always called Nick (though his name is actually Mathias which creates some sweetly comical moments) is now flesh and blood and will do anything to protect her, including giving his very life. As a child she always considered him a friend and protector but as a woman her feelings have morphed into something stronger as love enters the picture and leads to yet another battle that complicates everything. A bloody final battle brings unexpected secrets to light and shows a war far from over and a tortured little girl's life in jeopardy.
Chantal has grown up with a life full of hard knocks which have made her stronger. Though the paranormal elements that make up her life shock her at first she quickly comes to accept it as truth. She doesn't want to run and hide but Mathias is desperate to keep her safe which makes her feel smothered and even more determined to stand and fight. It's admirable that she wants to fight alongside the other Warriors but these sexy men see it as their duty which leads to an occasional his shy fit on her part as she feels left out. On the outside these men seem stoic and deadly but around the Oracles they're caring and playful and oh so appealing. Mathias is extremely drool-worthy and HOT as his protective instincts are constantly on display. He's been a gentleman towards Chantal all these years so the adult attraction he now feels surprises and confuses him. He saw her as an obligation when she was a child but now knows he can't live without her and blushes once he finally admits his feelings. Their relationship throughout the story is one of sexual tension hopefully to be consummated in the future but still immensely satisfying as they're extremely likable characters. All the Warriors are drool-worthy and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
This is a dark story at times that doesn't shy away from bloodshed. The mythos of the Fallen and Warriors gets a bit confusing at times as numerous characters and otherworldy creatures continue to be introduced throughout the story. Lives are in jeopardy and characters that we've come to like die which makes for some heartbreak. This atmospheric story starts out strong but loses a bit of steam in the middle section to shift into a fast-paced conclusion that leaves the story still unfolding as readers will be left breathless waiting for the next installment. This is an intriguing paranormal story with appealing characters and a dark and deadly world that pulls you in immediately and leaves you wanting more and I wholeheartedly applaud Ms. Jean for her creativity.
My rating for this is a B.
*I received this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Allie Jean was born with an overactive imagination. She spent her childhood inventing stories and telling tales. Her mind never shut down, even while she slept. Vivid dreams containing extensive, elaborate plot lines of good overcoming evil villains captured her nightly visions, lingering into her waking hours and filling the pages of her well-loved bounded diaries. She was encouraged by her parents, even at a young age, to write down her tales, and it has remained a somewhat secret hobby. As a busy wife, mother and critical care nurse, Allie’s love of storytelling has been reborn through the adventures of her unforgettable characters.
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