Sep 25, 2020

Review--Book of Shadows by M. Verano

All Melanie wants is a blank book to keep a journal of her private thoughts. One day while browsing in a used bookshop, she finds the perfect blank book—smooth black leather with strange symbols in gold embossing. But once she gets home, Melanie finds herself too intimidated by the heavy vellum pages to write her trivial thoughts on them. Her Wiccan friend Lara tells her it’s better suited to be a magical spell book, called The Book of Shadows.

Melanie doesn’t know much about that stuff, but Lara, her boyfriend Caleb, and his friend Lucas, get her started by writing their own made up spells inside the book’s tempting pages. What they didn’t expect was a new spell showing up inside the book—and in handwriting none of them recognize.

Soon they discover that the spells suggested by The Book of Shadows itself do work—but not without wreaking havoc on the lives of the four teenagers.



It seems we have reached the end of M. Verano’s Diary of a Haunting series with the last one titled, Book of Shadows. I’m sad that this series is over already. I found it to be utterly creepy, yet just the right kind of read for this time of year. In this one, we get more of the traditional diary sense in formatting. There’s a few drawings added, but no photographs or other pieces of “evidence.”

Melanie starts the story talking about how she acquired a new diary for herself from a local magic shop. Not the cutesy stores, but a real shop for Wiccans and the like. She didn’t get it by honest means though, she lifted it off the shelf and stuck it in her bag. Already I wasn’t too thrilled with Mel as a person, I mean shoplifting, really? But since this blank journal is so pretty and special, she wants to make sure she fills it with something meaningful. So her diary entries continue in a plain journal, I think it might have been an online version too.

When Mel’s Wiccan friend, Lara, gets the idea that she should write spells in it. She starts the journal with a spell for good luck. Joining them in this venture is Lara’s boyfriend Caleb, and his friend, Lucas. They think it’s all fun and games, just a joke, but they find out that the spell really works.

But that’s not the end of things, far from it. Soon Mel becomes consumed by this book. Constantly drawing in it and she’s not much of an artist for that matter. Yet she gets this urge just to draw these monstrous creatures in the book and sometimes, has no memory of even doing it.

Things start to escalate, naturally, as the powers that the quartet are messing with are not the nice kind and soon things ultimately take a turn for the worst.

I do want to give pre-warning right here that this book does bring up the topic of religion a lot. Not only with Wicca, but Christianity as well. And the latter it’s almost cult like. Mel and her friends live in part of the Bible Belt and nearly everyone in town belongs to one church, except for Mel of course. They’re almost zealots in their belief and preaching to anyone not in their church why they ought to be.

The horror in this story derives from the book Mel and her friends are toying with itself. It’s something demonic and with a mind of its own and what it does to its owner is unfathomable. There are a few shadows and things that Mel sees and can’t figure out what it is that just passed the corner of her eye. It’s definitely a book to make you jump at every little thing for sure.

I was once again a bit upset that the mysterious M. Verano did not make an appearance again like he did in the first book. Granted, he does tell us this story, in a way, with his foreword and editor’s note and how he came to be in knowledge of all that passed with Mel and her friends. I guess because he clearly had a role in the first book, I expected it would be something similar in these last two.

The ending was once again, spine-tingling chilling. Let’s remember that these are horror stories and those tend to end one of two ways. I won’t say which one of those this book took, but it was surprising nonetheless. I guess I still had hopes for just a bit more detail though and what Verano was going to do next with this knowledge.

I would easily pick up another of Verano’s books should he write another novel to terrify his readers. Book of Shadows will have you thinking long and hard about what journal you chose next for your thoughts. Choose wisely friends. ;)



Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars






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