Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sliding Beneath the Surface

Title: Sliding Beneath the Surface
Author: Doug Dillon
Series: The St. Augustine Trilogy, Book 1
Number of Pages: 288
Date Read: 3/12/14
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Ghost/Spirits

Synopsis (Found on

In America’s oldest and most haunted city, St. Augustine, Florida, teenager Jeff Golden is in trouble. Horrible dreams won’t let him sleep, and he is up to his eyeballs in terrifying, paranormal experiences.

Finally, Jeff turns to his friend Carla, and Lobo, the mysterious Native American shaman, for help. But what he discovers is a lot more than he bargained for.

A ghostly presence linked to a local historic cemetery is not only threatening Jeff’s sanity but his life as well. And before he knows what’s happening, Jeff finds both himself and Carla pulled into one of the nastiest and bloodiest events in Florida history. It is a place from which they may never escape.

My Review:

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

I liked this book. At first it was kind of hard to get into but after the first few chapters things started to get rolling and it got good.

The plot is about a 15 year old guy named Jeff Golden. He has just moved to St. Augustine, Florida and has been having a recurring nightmare which terrified him and has kept him up for a few days with minimal sleep. As a result he is having a constant headache and is unable to sleep when we first meet him, in chapter 1. Jeff has already made a friend in Carla Rodriguez who cares and worries about him. She suggests visiting her neighbor, Lobo, who she thinks can help him. Lobo is native american and was a shaman. Basically Lobo introduces Jeff into the paranormal aspect of the world and they determine that the "ghost" or spirit of his ancestor is trying to get in contact with him which is what is causing his nightmares and headaches. The rest of the book is about all three characters figuring out who the ghost is, what he wants, how to contact him and how to help him. It may sound boring but the events that occur are awesome and action packed. 

I like Jeff. He is a nice guy but he does have a huge attitude and anger problem. He gets angry way to easily, especially at Lobo who is trying to help him (although Lobo has has own attitude). He is loyal to his friends and cares about their safety immensely, which is evident in his interactions with Carla. When introduced into the paranormal world, he doesn't immediately buy everything Lobo is saying and has a difficult time accepting what is happening. Numerous events happen to him that involve his new paranormal powers that convince him to believe what Lobo and Carla tell him. Jeff is a very sympathetic character and I felt sorry for the guy especially the times when he felt overwhelmed. Lobo and Carla throw a lot his way and at times he felt overwhelmed and as a reader, I felt the same way he did at those points in the story. It seemed like things just kept piling up one right after the other (the book takes place in the span of a day so its a lot that he has to deal with). While Jeff does have some meltdowns, he eventually bucks up and deals with everything, which I admire in him. The things that happen to him would of freaked me out and I probably would of gone insane. Kudos to Jeff. 

I liked Carla also. She was funny. She is a short spanish girl with a huge attitude. She is one tough cookie. She doesn't back out of helping Jeff even when it endangers her life. She worries and cares about Jeff and continuously wants to help him. Carla is also someone who has been introduced into the paranormal world by Lobo and has her own paranormal powers that Lobo has taught her to control. Carla is very practical and no nonsense when she has a task that she needs to get done. She has a lot of patience but if someone keeps pushing her she will tell them off. One of the things I loved about Carla was her love for history. One of my co-majors was (ancient) history so I appreciate reading about a character who shares my love for something. Most of the history in the books came from Carla. At times she sounded like a walking encyclopedia but I was ok with that. 

I'm not sure how to feel about Lobo. When we first meet him, he is mean to Jeff. He never smiles and the only way he will help Jeff is if Jeff does things his way. Lobo is very stubborn but also very wise. He has lived a long time and has lived with his paranormal abilities all his life so he has a lot of experience with it. He tries to impart his knowledge to Jeff to help him but with his stubborness and Jeff's anger problems, they clash and Carla has to be the mediator. As the book moves on, Lobo is still very strict and stubborn but I saw some glimpses of him that show how much he comes to care about Jeff and how he wants to save his life. He preps Jeff for his contact with his ancestor and helps Jeff start to hone in his paranormal abilities. Lobo himself is very powerful and that is evident in many scenes in the book. Make no mistake, Lobo is a good guy but he could stand to change a few things in his personality. 

I loved the action in the last chapters and all the paranormal happenings in the book. Each character shows and uses their abilities at some point in the book and we get to see many of Jeff's new powers emerging. Oh and there are also doppelgangers which are always fun. There is a bit of what you can call "time travel" and it was cool to see a historical event reenacted in a book. There is also some gory bits in the book as well. Not too bad but still nasty. There is no real romance at least on Carla's side..yet. Its clear that Jeff likes Carla "like that" but Carla doesn't show any romantic emotions towards Jeff..yet. She is too preoccupied with figuring out how to help him. I am interested in seeing how this relationship turns out. So far the two are friends and nothing more. 

I also enjoyed reading the history of a town/city I never heard about and a battle I didn't even know happened. While Jeff's ancestor is a made up character, the rest of the people in the battle were real and it was cool to read about what really happened. I liked how the author wove the facts of what really happened without changing it to fit the story. The only thing I could see that was changed was the addition of Jeff's ancestor as a character. I like it when authors stay true to the history in their books.

One thing I do want to mention is that the book is written as if Jeff is talking to you. Its like you're having a conversation with him about something that happened a few days ago. He tells you his feelings, thoughts and what he said about things. He also adds in extra things that really have no place in the book but the author does that to show that Jeff is a teenager and that he notices things that adults wouldn't or is easily distracted. Personally, this kind of narration didn't bother me in the least but I wanted to throw it in because I know some people don't like this kind of writing. I don't think that should stop anyone from reading this book but that is just my opinion. I would recommend anyone with an interest in the paranormal/fantasy genre to give this book a try. I'm glad I did and I am excited to read the next one.


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