Review: ‘Servants of the Storm’ by Delilah S. Dawson

Servants of the Storm

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.

This is a book that is going to polarise people. I gave it five stars so clearly I’m in the “I loved it” category, but I can’t think of the last time a book pulled the rug out from under me in the last chapter like this one did. I lay awake half the night thinking about it. If there were a sequel available for me to read RIGHT NOW, that wouldn’t be so bad. But there isn’t. And I want to cry a little from frustration.

I see from perusing other reviews on Goodreads that some people had assumed this was a psychological thriller, and so were disappointed when it took a supernatural turn. Although there are elements of psychological thriller to the story — Dovey spends the first part of the book coming down off heavy medication and her memory is unreliable at best — the story is more a cross between urban fantasy and horror (which I guess is where gothic fiction often sits).

There are supernatural beasties, mostly demons or their various offspring. And the horror elements are a combination of the creeping sense that something was rotten just beneath the shiny surface, and the way the book leaves you gasping, like the freaky scene right at the end of a horror movie where all is revealed. I was reminded of Silent Hill by parts of it, if you’re familiar with those games (and that movie) — the way you’d turn a corner and something that looked shabby but more-or-less normal would peel back and reveal a slice of something deeply disturbing.

Other than the amazing atmosphere, the thing that made this book for me was Dovey. I love how complex a character she is. She is deeply flawed, in that she has a one-track mind (and may or may not have been dangerously insane before the antipsychotics). Her goal, to find out what happened to her friend Carly a year before, is what inspires her to stop taking her medication, and it’s what drives her to do pretty much everything from that point on.

Sometimes her actions are almost daft, the way she dives into trouble after having been warned of the danger. The ease with which she resorts to violence as the drugs go out of her system is both a warning sign and, I have to admit, deeply satisfying (because who doesn’t love a tough main character?). But her clear and enduring love for her friend, and her natural distrust of the gorgeous but suspicious Isaac — the one providing all the warnings of danger in the first place — are the cause of her recklessness. I can respect that.

There is a bit of a love triangle here, in the typical YA way: Baker is the childhood friend with a longstanding crush, and Isaac is a little bit of a bad boy … but not that bad, really, given the other YA bad boys out there. He came across as more of a bookworm who’s fallen in with a bad crowd to me, which made me like him more than I like most bad boys. Either way, the romance is definitely a subplot, a bit of extra spice, which is how I personally like it.

If you like paranormal stories with a serious creep-factor and a dark conspiracy, then this is the book for you. Five stars.

…now, where’s my sequel? Five stars