Before. Everything was so much better Before. I wasn’t haunted by nightmares, my place at school was secure and my face was flawless. Now, I’m a freak and everything has changed. The worst part is that I can’t remember the night I was sentenced to the shadows. The memory has been stolen from me and I just can’t shake the feeling that someone, something is out there -watching. Just when I think I have my life handled, Sam, with his intimidating golden stare and shiver inducing voice, makes me realize that I don’t know anything. He makes me see that my scars don’t matter. That they never mattered. I can’t help but fall for him, completely unknowing that he knows exactly how I got this way. Not knowing he was involved. *** Heven has no idea how closely death stalks her. She has no idea what I have done to keep her alive. I fear the day she learns my secrets, finds out what I really am. But even then I cannot stop, I vow to make things right. Finally her hunter will be hunted, Heaven and Hell, faith and sin will battle, and we will be victorious. But first, Heven must learn to be what she never imagined. I know her strength is there – I feel it. If we are to overcome all odds, she must push past her flaws - her frailties - to become much more.
Published December 16th 2011 by Otherworld Publications
Five Stars: A unique and creative debut novel!
Heven scurries home from her late, study session at the library. The crisp, click of her heels on the pavement, echoing in the darkness, as she hurries to each inviting, safe, splash of light, dotted along the sidewalk that break up night's dark blanket. Suddenly, there is a rustle in the bushes, a streaking blur, followed by ferocious growling and clawing. Heven's piercing scream shatters the stillness, as she awakens; a sweaty, trembling heap in a tangle of sheets. Another nightmare disturbs her slumber. A cool, slosh of water on her face and an inadvertent glance in the mirror reveals the cruel, slashes on the side of her face, reminders that the terrors in the night are now reality. The twisted scars, remnants from that fateful evening, when an unknown assailant attacked her and forever changed her world. Now, Heven is thin, pale and constantly hiding her once beautiful face behind a curtain of golden hair. Gone are the short skirts and bright smiles, replaced by baggy hoodies and slouches. The halls of her high school where she once chattered and giggled with friends, today are a gauntlet of whispers and stares. At least Kimber, her best friend, has remained loyal and at her side. Heven is haunted by the fear that something is stalking her every move. She continually glances over her shoulder, trying to shake that terrible feeling of unease. Then a handsome, blonde boy shows up at school and Heven is inexplicably drawn to him; yet, her scarred face holds her timidly in the shadows, but why is it when Sam is near she feels safe? Why is he such a source of comfort? What secrets is he hiding?
What I Liked:
- I enjoyed the evolution of Heven. In the beginning of the book, she is a frail, scared recluse, far removed from the glory of her head cheerleader days. It was an eye opening experience to see her decline and witness the suffering, that stems from the mutterings and pitiful gazes of her peers. This novel brings to light the pain and struggles that so many disfigured people endure. Hopefully, Heven's story will speak to readers and perhaps it can even help some of these victims. As Heven navigates through her new life, she begins to accept her image and slowly she transforms and becomes the beautiful girl that radiates from inside; no longer letting her scars define her. This is the aspect of the story I appreciated most. By the end of the book, Heven is confident, determined and strong; an amazing transformation.
- Sam is an enigma. He is brave, noble, and protective, as well as good looking. The tender, terms of endearment that fall from his lips will cause many hearts to flutter. Yet, he is clearly hiding a big secret. There are hints that lead you to believe that Sam might be one of the typical, paranormal, male leads but when his true identity was exposed, I was shocked! The reveal was unexpected, creative and far different from anything I anticipated. A clever, twist that readers will devour! To learn the specifics of his past tore at my heart strings, but it clearly defined him and helped him to become the strong man he is today. He may have his stash of secrets but he is still a responsible gentleman, who loves to drink bubble tea (I am now in search of a taste of this delightful beverage). He has definitely thrown his hat into the competition for favorite, paranormal hunk.
- Heven has her scars and Sam his secrets but love allows them to see beyond the obstacles and they learn to accept each other as they are. A wonderful message!
- I admired Ms. Hebert's fluid, easy writing style. The story naturally flows along with just the right amount of precise detail. I liked the way she carefully described Heven's apparel, a well as a typical day. I loved the different and clever array of descriptive words and phrases that are prevalent throughout. Cambria Hebert is certainly a talented new voice in the young adult world.
- The story is suspenseful; I enjoyed that I spent the entire time calculating my guesses, only to find time and time again, that I was wrong. This book is brimming with the unexpected. Just when you think you have the story figured out, it morphs into something beyond expectation. It is unique among the other books I have read in the paranormal genre. Be prepared to be shocked and dazzled!
And The Not So Much:
- Heven's mother remains a mystery. In the beginning she appears to be a typical mom, who cooks an ample amount of atrocious chicken. She is always nagging Heven to attend bible study, which caused me to raise an eyebrow in skeptic wonder (even though I can't really do the one eyebrow trick). As events transpired, I understood why she insisted on Heven, reading the Bible (don't worry this is not a book with heavy, religious undertones) but I never had a firm understanding of the why and how behind her motives. I would like further clarification on the mother's behavior and her beliefs.
- I still had a few unanswered questions regarding the other two point of views: The Hate and The Hope. I am not clear on all the motivating factors behind the voices. Sometimes, the additional view points broke up the even movement of the story line; leaving me pondering their importance in the plot.
Cambria Hebert's, Masquerade, is a paranormal, debut novel that should end up atop the lists for best, new, young adult novels of 2011. This book delivers everything you hunger for in a good book. There is tender, romance, biting action and thick suspense, as well as several, shocking turns of events. Many of these unforeseen elements will no doubt, astound and astonish readers. Masquerade is a book you won't want to miss. I advise you to get your hands on a copy immediately! You will tear through it and wonder when you can read the next installment! I can't wait to take a tour to Italy with Sam and Heven in the next book, Spring 2012!
"I shouldn't feel safe. I never felt safe around anyone new, but his presence was like a blanket to my shivering insides, whatever he projected reached out and wrapped around me, keeping my fear at bay."
"Your scars do not define you, young lady. Your actions do."
"It was a simple insignificant brush of his hand as he took the keys from my palm, but I would remember that one second contact with him like it was my first kiss."
"His eyes shone like the summer sun with a hint of surprise."
"I learned a long time ago a person's appearance is only a disguise for who they truly are."
"You've unlocked every place inside of me and left me completely vulnerable."