“Guardian of the Dead,” by S.E. Davis

In a short bio, the author S.E. Davis, remarks that this is her first novel and to put it quite simply she has made quite a first splash. “Guardian of the Dead,” is very much a character driven novel, and as anyone who knows me, I love novels that have strong, well-developed characters. But it is much more than that, the narrative and plot are intricate and Ms. Davis is able to neatly tie the entire story together so that the reader never feels lost, and just as importantly the reader never loses interest.

The story starts with Ariana, the six year old protagonist, and her mother Alana being terrorized by their mother’s boyfriend who stabs the mother five times and before much harm is done to her daughter, Ariana, she is saved by a thirteen year old boy, who appears out of nowhere, and has a scar on his forehead (Davis). The boy disappears and doesn’t reappear until about the middle of the story.

The mother survives, but both her and Ariana, have to move into a trailer owned by their grandmother on a large piece of property with a pond and a lot of history. At first, the grandmother does not seem to get along with them and would like to see them move out… A little later much more detail is given for why she wants them out.

One night, Ariana, looking out a window, sees a man hanging from an oak tree (Eugene). That night she goes to sleep, and has a dream that she leaves the trailer and walks pass the oak tree and down to the pond where she witnesses a brutal murder. Eugene, the man hanging from the tree, drowns a seven year old girl, named Betty, and her mother while the father is tied to a tree and is forced to watch the whole thing.

Ariana runs back to the trailer and when she wakes up the next morning she notices that her feet are all dirty from the adventure the night before. Soon it is revealed, that what she saw was not a dream, but something that actually happened 60 years ago. Soon Ariana, possessing unusual abilities, meets the seven year old girl, Betty, who is a ghost and is the one protecting the property from the murderous Eugene. Betty tells Ariana, that she Ariana, has unusual powers and that she must go away with her mother and will be called back when her strength has increased, on a birthday, and help fight off the evil ghost, Eugene.

Her grandmother, confides in Ariana that all that she has been told is true and that she must listen to Betty and go away until the appropriate time. The powers that Ariana possesses were the same type of powers her grandmother’s mother possessed. The characters of Betty and Eugene are so well developed, and that of the grandmother that even though they are gone for long parts of the novel they are never forgotten.

You can call this novel supernatural, science fiction, but to me it was an amazingly poignant novel that was more like a suspenseful thriller. I highly recommend. Great job Ms. Davis.51TeLLMvNVL

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