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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Blackheath is an enchanting novel by Gabriella Lepore. The story starts with Maggie Ellmes being interrogated by Officer Bryant about the Tomlins family, all of whom are well known in the town of Blackheath for being witches. Maximus Tomlins is a sole parent, as his children's mother’s whereabouts is unknown, although she does show up every couple of years before leaving again. The oldest son of the family – Evan – inherits a large castle-style mansion after his aunt dies. Maximus had also, at one stage, abandoned the boys, leaving Evan and Joel to take over the parenting roles in Ainsley and Pippin’s lives. Joel becomes very resentful when Maximus unexpectedly returns as he feels isolated without Evan by his side. Evan is ‘The Chosen One’ and is Maximus’ sole focus in his training, leaving the other three children – Joel, Ainsley and Pippin – feeling very much alone.
At their boarding school, Maggie and Joel had once been friends (many years ago) but Joel loathes her now, due to him being her constant scapegoat. That quickly changes when Maggie realizes that somebody has put a hex on her, bringing about too much bad luck for her liking. At first Maggie suspects Joel as the culprit, but soon discovers he was not the one who’d cursed her. Joel’s struggle in whether to help Maggie on his own or admitting he cannot do it alone is a wonderfully engaging journey in itself, leading to a life-and-death battle of major proportions with a shocking twist. The first chapter containing the interrogation is not as gripping as the last, which is ironic. It’s amazing what ‘filling in the blanks’ can do to a simple question.
With a roller coaster ride of emotion and surprises for the reader, Blackheath carries a storyline of darkness, while also capturing friendship and romance in a beautifully written package. Most of the characters are so easy to relate to and engage with. The story flows well, with Gabriella Lepore showing how children even from a very dysfunctional and broken family can become the most loyal of friends, even when they outwardly seem not to like you very much. This YA Paranormal/Romance/Coming of Age tale is one that I will be sure to read again and again. I look forward to adding Gabriella Lepore’s other books to my literary collection.