It had been the Pagan Stone for hundreds of years, long before three boys stood around it and spilled their blood in a bond of brotherhood, unleashing a force bent on destruction ...
Gage Turner has been running from his past for a long time. The son of an abusive drunk, his childhood in the small town of Hawkins Hollow had been rough. His only solace was his friendship with Fox O'Dell and Caleb Hawkins. But, when the trio turned ten, an innocent boyish ritual accidentally unleashed an ancient evil on their town. Every seven years murder and mayhem reign, events that seem to be escalating with each cycle.
Now Gage has returned home to help his friends finally defeat the evil force. Helping them will be Layla Darnell, Quinn Black and Cybil Kinski. Gage finds himself drawn to the smart and savvy Cybil, but a lifetime as a loner has made him wary of emotional ties. And who can make plans for the future when their present is so uncertain? For unless they can find a way of using the Pagan Stone against the demonic force, everything they know and love will be destroyed ...
Whilst I have liked this trilogy, I don't think it has been the strongest thing that Nora Roberts has produced. It was therefore something of a surprise when I found myself crying while reading this (on the train no less) three times! Normally I can walk from the train station to work without being talked to by anyone, so of course on Friday morning when I had been crying at this book three people stopped me to ask questions or say hello! Always the way!
So what was it about this book that touched me so much. Mainly, it was to do with the fact that the Gage, whose father was a violent alcoholic and whose mother died when he was very young, was adopted by Fox and Caleb's families. Whilst my dad is an alcoholic and has pretty much been absent for most of my life through a series of circumstances that were not only of his own makings, I am not motherless. It is pretty fair to say though that none of my family has a particularly strong relationship when I compare it to those that other people have with their mothers. I often wondered what it said about me that where my sister was 'adopted' by several different families over the years, that never really happened for me. It is something that I should really be over by this time in my life, but if there is something that is almost guaranteed to get me going it is happy or dysfunctional families - doesn't really matter which - both have the potential to distress!
The thing that Nora Robert is great at is dialogue, and the representation of relationships, in particular friendships, but in this book it was the dialogue about adoptive families. The particular passages that touched me:
He knew what he wanted to say, Gage realized. "You always let me in. I was thinking about things today. You and Fox's mother, you always let me in. You never once turned me away.
"Why in the world would I?"
"You and Jim, you made sure I had a roof over my head - and you made it clear I could have this one, I could have yours whenever I needed it. You kept my father on at the center, even when you should've let him go, and you did that for me. but you never made me feel like it was charity. You and Fox's parents, you made sure I had clothes, shoes, work so I had spending money. And you never made me feel it was because you felt sorry for that Turner kid."
And a bit further on with Fox's mother:
With a sigh, she put her arms around him, laid her head on his shoulder. "All of your life, as a parent, you wonder and you worry. Did I do that right? Should I have done that, said this? Then, suddenly, in a fingersnap it seems, your children are grown. And still you wonder and you worry. Could I have done this, did I remember to say that? If you're very lucky, one day one of your children..." She leaned back to look into his eyes. "Because you're mine and Frannie's too. One of your children writes you a note that arrows straight into your heart. All that worry goes away." She gave him a watery smile. "For a moment anyway. Thank you for the moment, baby."
Anyway, enough about my issues.
Given that in the first couple of books, Cal and Quinn initially and then Fox and Layla all buddied up, there was an inevitability to Gage and Cybil getting it together that even the characters commented on, but there was definite chemistry between them as well as their shared gift of being able to see the future. Their destiny was something that was perhaps a little bit of a cliche, but it is fair to say that it was not the only cliched aspect of the storyline. Then again the symbolism in those moments was also a very important element in the final showdown, so I guess it had to be there.
In many ways the final showdown against the demon, far from being the crescendo of the trilogy, was a bit flat and a bit rushed, especially compared to some of the earlier battles. In the end, I am glad that I have finished the trilogy, and I am ready to see what comes out next from Nora Roberts.
In closing I am going to focus on a really deep issue. How boring is this cover from Piatkus? The whole trilogy has had this 'stony' cover on it (just in different colours). Yes, I get the symbolism, but really ... boring! I do wonder if maybe because it is Nora, she will sell by the bucket and so they don't think that covers matter or something?