The Storm and the Darkness by Sarah M. Cradit is a wonderful beginning to a series. You can sort of tell that it is a set up book where characters reveal themselves and settings are established, but it is well done. It never feels like you are walking through a receiving line at an event going "Hello, my name is _____ and I do _____ for a living and my emotional scars that have shaped me are ______, _____, and _____." The characters and their motivations are introduced slowly and appropriately. The reader is left to form their own opinions and that is awesome.
There is a lot to be said for a simple cover and this is a good example of one. There are no hidden images and no subtext that explains part of the plot. It shows a storm and an island. It implies isolation which is exactly what this book is all about.
Ana is a young woman who has left all of her life back in New Orleans in order to hide from her mistakes and protect her friends and family from them. When she arrives on Summer Island in Maine, she realizes quickly how radical a change she has made. Gone are the magnolias and proper manners of the South. Her neighbor, Jonathan St. Andrews, is cold and reclusive. His brother, Finn, is friendly enough but just the kind of man she was running away from. Alex is the old caretaker of the house she has moved into and is supremely helpful but decidedly odd.
What she has left behind is a lot of drama involving friends and family, including her dedicating and loving cousin, Nic. She says that she needed some space and a chance to break away from a sheltered life as a daughter of a wealthy business owner but what she really wants is a place where nobody knows who she is.
There is more to all of this than it seems. The island hides an awful secret and when a winter storm hits, everything is exposed.
This book is billed as paranormal but it isn't an overwhelming thing. The story had the potential to work without it but it was a lovely addition. It wasn't like some modern paranormal stuff where vampires, fae, and werewolves are leaping out of the woodwork and trying to kill people right off the bat. This is a thriller and mystery book with an element of the paranormal, not the other way around.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Looking forward to the next one!