Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Book Review: 'Evoke (Lake Haven, Book #1)' by Danielle Simmons

Evoke by Danielle Simmons

‘I don’t remember being in an accident.’

California author Danielle Simmons makes an impressive debut with EVOKE – the first installment in her planned trilogy, ‘Lake Haven.’ After earning her BA in English from the University of the Pacific and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she works as a public relations executive.

It is rare for an author to be able to establish a mood in the opening words of a novel that asks the reader to visit a tragedy, but Danielle has already mastered this skill. Without informing us about a life changing car accident we meet Laney – ‘I was trapped in the dark, no light to guide, and did not recognize the sounds of the world around me. I couldn’t hear water lapping against the shore, or wind in the trees, just the ticking of a clock overhead and hurried footsteps in the distance. While the arrival of cautious breathing told me someone was near, my head felt as if it were trapped under sand and I could not open my eyes to determine the source. “Hello,” I called out, my voice barely a whisper. While I should have known it as my own, it was more fragile than I remembered, and despite the word’s simplicity, felt it dangling at the edge of my tongue. “Alaina,” and unfamiliar voice answered, reaching for my hand, holding it carefully. “Can you hear me?” I nodded in relief, grateful that I was not alone, and with each intake of air, my body awakened, nerves coming to life…’

And so the story begins, a tale that is as much about compassion and the connection between friends and family as it is about a tender romance. Danielle’s synopsis is valuable – ‘When five friends come home from college for the summer, it feels as if the friendship that has bound them together since childhood is stronger than ever. But when Laney Thomas wakes up two months later and discovers she is the sole survivor of an accident that has claimed the lives of three friends, Laney realizes the world she has awakened, is not the one she remembers. The loss is devastating, changing her life irrevocably, and with no recollection of the accident or the days leading up to it, Laney must rely on Evan Davies, the only one not in the car that night, to help her heal. The two have always been close, sharing a rare and inextricable bond, and as long as he is by her side, the emptiness won't swallow her whole. But when Evan disappears from her life without explanation, Laney is forced into her memories of the past, learning the painful truth of the friendships she cherished, and love coveted.’

The atmosphere of Maine swirls thoughout the story and offers a constancy that helps us understand the mystery of the accident – its inception and slow revelation to the mind of Laney as she must face the recovery of memory and its consequences. This is a fine first novel, one that makes us eager for Book 2 of the trilogy.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.ht.

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