I received this book free from the author for an honest review. This did not color my opinion. Mild, first 1/3 of the book spoilers ahead.
Sliding Beneath the Surface is the first in the St. Augustine Trilogy, a series of supernatural YA books steeped in the rich history of America’s oldest city. In the first book, teenager Jeff Golden has recently moved to St. Augustine and finds himself troubled with repeating nightmares that set him on a crash course with a centuries old battle between US soldiers and Seminole Indians.
Author Doug Dillon clearly has respect for historical facts and I found myself actually interested in learning about a time period I’m no expert in. He paints the city of St. Augustine as a colorful place that I’d actually like to learn more about, and probably can when the two sequels are released.
Cons: I had a few issues that kept pulling me out of the story. The book is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, which is fine, but it’s far too conversational. Things like “you know what I mean” and “don’t ask me why I did it” are fine in dialogue but jar me in narration. This seemed to happen less often as the book progressed, or I settled into the rhythm, but it was a stumbling block in the beginning. Also, the narrator seemed oddly attached to people he only just met, or knew for a couple weeks. This isn’t a huge issue, but it pulled me out of the story a few times when he was shocked that the Native American shaman he just met smiled, as if he’d spent years with the man and never seen him smile before. The only other problem I had was the speed of the story. On my iPad, the first 100 of 340 pages was Jeff telling his friend about his nightmares, crossing the street, and learning that supernatural elements really do exist from the shaman. That didn’t need 100 pages. I think with some tightening the book could be a lot stronger.
Pros: Once the story got into it, I was interested in what would happen with Jeff’s supernatural problems. The characters were interesting, the setting was great, and the history was fun. I could tell how well researched the Seminole Wars were and that the facts weren’t made up for the story, which the author verified in his notes at the book’s conclusion.
Final Thoughts: Three out of five stars. Liked it, didn’t love it. Once the protagonist learns that the supernatural exists, things do speed up slightly, which makes me interested in book 2, which I may read when it’s released.
This is Elliot Arthur Cross letting you know you can learn more at DougDillon.com. Happy reading.