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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: The Back Door of Midnight

The Back Door of Midnight by Elizabeth Chandler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: November 16th, 2010
Pages: 299
Series: Dark Secrets, #5
Age Level: 13+
RAK gift from Shannon

Synopsis via Goodreads
Psychic...or psychotic?

Anna knows her family is crazy. But when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle for the summer and learns that her uncle’s charred body has been found, her life reaches a new level of insanity. Her erratic aunt’s “psychic” abilities are exaggerated by her grief, and have become borderline violent. Alone in an unfamiliar town, Anna struggles to pick up the pieces and establish any sense of normalcy. She desperately wants to trust Zack, the cute boy next door, but even he might know more about the incident than he is letting on.

But when Anna starts feeling an inexplicable pull to the site of her uncle’s murder, she begins to believe that her family’s supernatural gifts are real after all. Torn between loyalty and suspicion, Anna is certain of only one thing: she must discover who killed her uncle or she could be next....

Review (No spoilers)
I read the first book in Chandler's Dark Secrets series, Legacy of Lies, in 2007 during the last half of my 8th grade year. I fell in love and went in search online for the titles of the others. My search quickly turned up the next three books in the series, which I read. There was also mention of a fifth book in the series, The Back Door of Midnight. I looked all over the place online. The book wasn't available anywhere and the publication dates spanned from the 80's to the 2020's. Someone had uploaded a cover photo to Amazon and I emailed them asking them about the book with no response. I decided the book must have been sucked into a black hole.

At the beginning of 2010, a miracle occurred and The Back Door of Midnight showed itself on Goodreads with a legitimate release date. And not just any release date but my 18th birthday! After waiting about 4 years for this book, I have finally had the chance to read it (Thanks Shannon. *huggles*)

Chandler crafted a strong and independent character in her heroine, Anna. For starters, I loved Anna's sassy, slightly dry sense of humor. I also thought she handled her situation quite well; even when she was freaked out by some of the things going on, she managed to stay relatively calm and in control. However, she wasn't without her vulnerabilities and I admired this about her. Not only does Chandler create excellent protagonists, her supporting characters are also very dynamic and significant. There is almost always more to them than what first appears and The Back Door of Midnight was no exception. Zack is our boy next door. Though a touch preppy, he's funny, artistic, and charming. However, he has some secrets of his own and like Anna, I found it hard to trust him at first. Anna's slightly crazy and psychic Aunt Iris was a very intriguing character and one I could never quite figure out, which I liked. There was Mr. Gill, who, quite frankly, kinda gave me the creeps. There were some other great, well layered supporting characters as well, such as Erika, Audrey, and Marcy, but I really don't want to say anymore about them for fear of spoiling something.

The Back Door of Midnight is an alluring concoction of subtle paranormal elements and a captivating mystery. Chandler has this way of weaving in the supernatural so that it beneficially adds to the plot but doesn't overtake or consume it, allowing the mystery at hand to be the real star. While there were a couple of things I had figured out, there were always other questions that kept me guessing and twists that left me shocked. Also, the town of Wisteria contributes beautifully and acts as the perfect setting.

The main thing I remember loving about the Dark Secrets series were the story lines. Not sure if I'd just forgotten or if I was just not paying close enough attention, but Chandler has a lovely writing style. Her descriptions are vivid, fully immersing me in the scene that she has provided. She does an excellent job of setting the eerie, mysterious tone that I have now come to know her books for. Her writing is also consistently well-paced, quickening and relaxing in all the right spots.

So I had kind of suspected who was behind the murder of Anna's Uncle Will. This was more due to the fact that I was familiar with Chandler's style because, honestly, I had no idea as far as the motive. Well I was right but to find out the whys and what-for's was like with every book in this series for me. I love watching how Chandler pulls things together at the end, always surprising me with the complexities behind whatever happened. In the end, I thought Chandler brought things to a close quite suitably.

After it had been so long since having read the other books in this series, I admit that part of me was nervous that I wouldn't enjoy this one as much as I remembered enjoying the others. Well the worrying was senseless because The Back Door of Midnight just reminded me of how much I love these books and why. Though I gotta say, I think The Deep End of Fear remains my favorite. For those of you wondering, while these books have small connections tying them together, they don't have to be read in order and also stand alone quite well. That being said, I highly recommend the Dark Secrets books to, well, everyone and I know I'll re-read them all again in the future.

Characters: A
Writing: B+
Plot: B+
Ending: A-
Series: B+
Enjoyment/Likability: B+
Recommendable: B+

Overall: B+

Cover: B
(It's really pretty but prefer the old covers for the series.)

Buy Dark Secrets, Volume #1 (Books #1 & #2): Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository
Buy Dark Secrets, Volume #2 (Books #3 & #4): Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository
Buy The Back Door of Midnight now: Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository


BookGeek said...

I've seen this particular novel on some shelves already, but was unaware that it was a series. I guess I will have to wait a few before buying this one (what a beautiful cover and I love the title!). Lovely review, thanks!

Candace said...

I see this book everywhere (or maybe just Walmart, lol) and thought it was part of a series but never looked up the other titles. I guess if the covers are different that would explain my slight confusion. I'm glad you ended up liking it!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I've never even heard of this series and I was going to skip your review when I saw it was book #5 in the series, but that description pulled me in and I had to keep going. I'm convinced that I need to check out something by Chandler in the future. Whether it be this one or the first in the series, I will read at least one of these books in the future.

Great review!

Dreaming of Ink. said...

Great review. I remember reading the first book of the series in a dark in my room while it was raining in the middle of winter. The first story gave me the creeps. I really thought my window would swing open at any moment. E. Chandler is very good at making you feel like you're living the story :)

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