Saturday, January 12, 2013



I’m pretty hard to please with Young Adult paranormal books, but this one was very good.

The St Augustine pyramids are an important part of the story
This is the story of 15-year old Jeff Golden discovering, accepting, and learning to use his psychic powers with the assistance of a shaman named Lobo and his friend, Carla Rodriguez.  In the beginning of the story he is plagued by nightmares that keep him from sleeping at night.  He shares this with Carla who  introduces him to Lobo.  Jeff learns about the supernatural cause of these nightmares and the three characters go on a paranormal adventure to a historic battle to deal with it.  The battle isn’t fictional, and the obvious research that Dillon used in his descriptions of that conflict and its participants is impressive. 

Jeff is a likeable character, a typical teenage boy trying to do the right thing but resisting every inch of the way for most of the story.  He learns many things in the course of the story.  One is that he can control his reactions to things that happen in his life - a valuable lesson for anyone to learn.

Carla is also very good character.  She is sassy and strong and a good friend to Jeff.  She has her own powers that Lobo helped her deal with previously, so she can relate to Jeff’s current dilemma and is eager to help him.  I liked her very much.

Lobo lives on Mantazas Bay
Lobo is a good character but a bit flat.  He’s stern, doesn’t smile, doesn’t like to be bothered.  He is extremely wise about supernatural matters.  Although there are times in the story when Jeff senses a hint of possible concern from Lobo, he seems largely indifferent, outside of anger and impatience.

The Nights of Lights takes place during this story
While I would have liked more character development, the plot and the setting were exceptionally well done.  The plot kept me curious, kept me reading, wondering what would happen next.  Descriptions of St Augustine were striking, creating clear images of the setting in my mind.  St Augustine itself was almost a character in the story.  Historical themes in fiction are hit and miss with me.  Sometimes I find them hard to follow, but that was not the case here.  Dillon’s account of historical events throughout the story were clear, easy to understand and engaging.  His ability to connect history with the setting and Jeff’s life is impressive.

There were two things that bothered me.  One was the lack of development of the character of Jeff’s mom.  It felt like the author made a decision to write her off as a disinterested mom instead of including her in the story.  All we know about her is that she likes to drink and sleep at her boyfriend’s house.  There are a few references to the death of Jeff’s father.  I would have liked to know more about how that affected her and the relationship between her and Jeff.   She could have added a fascinating layer to the story. 

The other thing that bothered me was the relationship between Jeff and Lobo.  It was fun in the beginning but became monotonous.  Their reactions to each other and interactions with each other became predictable.  Given the intense experiences they have together this relationship could have developed in some interesting ways.

I recommend this for a Young Adult reader, and I think that some adult readers would appreciate it as well.  Despite some weaknesses with character development, the book is well written, and fun to read.

Book Cover Description

A new resident of America's oldest and most haunted city, St. Augustine, Florida, fifteen-year-old Jeff Golden suddenly finds himself up to his eyeballs in frightening paranormal experiences.  At the end of his rope in trying to figure out what is happening to him, Jeff decides to rely on his friend Carla Rodriguez, and Lobo, an old Native American shaman, for help.  

Despite this guidance, things get even worse.  Jeff's spine tingling encounters increase in number and intensity at an alarming rate, scaring him even more.  Eventually, he makes the startling discovery that unresolved circumstances involving a bloody event directly out of Florida's distant past threatens his sanity and possibly his life.

Finally, overwhelmed by forces he cannot understand or control, Jeff's world shifts from frightening to downright terrifying.  In desperation, and on Lobo's advice, he leaps headlong into the unknown in order to save himself.  What Jeff discovers though is that he has entered a level of reality he is completely unprepared to handle while unwittingly dragging Carla with him.  

Like all the books in THE ST. AUGUSTINE TRILOGY, the premise for Sliding Beneath the Surface is simply this:  You create your own reality.

About the Author

A former award winning educator, Doug writes about things paranormal and historical.  His interest in the paranormal comes from personal experiences as detailed in the nonfiction adult book he and his wife wrote titled, An Explosion of Being: An American Family's Journey into the Psychic.  Out of those events and extensive historical research, he then created Sliding Beneath the Surface for young adults, Book I of the St. Augustine Trilogy.  Doug set his trilogy in the oldest and most haunted city in the United States, St. Augustine, Florida.  Books II and III of the trilogy are on the way.    

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