A Hold On Me by Pat Edson is a fantasy, romance fiction novel about a young adult woman named Stephanie; when we meet Stephanie she is with her father (John) and they are at an old church where they are looking into buying the church’s old junk. John is letting Annie handle the negotiation even though they had already agreed on a price and that she would be the one handling it well in advance. We find out from Stephanie (nicknamed Annie) that her and her dad travel around the United States going to different shows and visiting with different dealers in search of antiques or valuables that can be sold. They are antique collectors or sellers. After Annie makes the deal, she and her dad celebrate in their usual fashion and begin going through the stuff. Most of the stuff is in the dark and really dusty, so Annie is not overly interested in helping her dad look through these things. John begins picking the lock to the sacristy because that’s where he believes he’ll find some valuable items. While he’s picking the lock, Annie is looking down the hall and thinks she sees the shadow of a thin man, but quickly thinks she’s just seeing things. When she turns back to her dad, she notices a dark, vacant expression on his face which worries her, but she didn’t know what to do. After a few minutes, her dad returned to his usual self.
They load up their things and head to Moonhill where John’s relatives (sisters and father) live – this started with her father’s diagnosis of dementia a while back and it’s become increasingly difficult for Annie to take care of him by herself or afford it. Somehow she ended up in court trying to gain power of attorney or at least the legal authority to make medical decisions for her father, but the judge ruled in her Aunt Kate’s favor so they have to stay at Moonhill. While staying there, Annie meets her cousins – Zachary and Selena – her other aunt Olya, grandfather and servant, Chase. Once they are allowed into the home, Annie and John are immediately separated to opposite sides of the mansion and Annie kept in the dark about her father’s condition and treatment. Since Annie is afraid of the dark, she usually carries a flashlight with her and it sometimes causes problems with going out and getting around.
Annie notices weird things happening in the house – seeing dark, imposing shadows, unable to see her dad, his bizarre and aggressive behavior, and the cats in the house that almost always seem to be in a state of hysteria. She notices people in the house lying to her about things that are going on such as the shadows she sees, her father’s condition and treatment, and the death of her mother. As she begins to move through the mansion on her own, Annie begins to have vague memories from her childhood when she gets to certain rooms; she remembers a time when she was with her mother and wasn’t afraid of the dark. Chase helps her come to this realization and Annie knows that Chase knows the truth about what happened to her mom and what’s going on with her dad now. Annie determines that it’s important to her to find out the truth, so she heads to the graveyard where her mother reportedly, “slipped on wet grass and hit her head on the marble lamb statue”, in the graveyard, on the way down. The impact cracked her skull and tragically she died at the scene.
By the time John found out that his wife had died, he had been traveling at the time, his family had already cremated her body and put it in a jar; this infuriated John and he had a falling out with his family. He hasn’t been in touch with them for years and hasn’t forgiven them for the wife cremation incident. In order to get to the bottom of things, Annie decides that talking to Chase is what she needs to do to get more details about her mom and family. So the author unfolds a story about Annie’s super sleuth-ness in figuring out what really happened to her mother, why she is scared of dark and what made her that way, what is going on with her dad, and all about Chase (she thinks he’s attractive).
The author weaves an interesting tale that I, honestly, was not expecting; I think the story is interesting and good, but I’m not sure I would read the next book in the series. I found this book in the romance section of a used bookstore so I was expecting a bit more romance in the story, and was thoroughly disappointed when that wasn’t the case. The “romantic” parts seem to be the moments when Annie fantasizes and daydreams about Chase and when they occasionally flirt with each other which is kind of weak. I would recommend this book to any young adult or adult (more than likely women) who enjoy a good fantasy novel with a small bit of romance thrown in; a person looking to try a new genre of book mixed with a genre they know they love or if they are simply looking to read a book by a new author they’ve never heard of. I purchased my book at that same used bookstore for about $5 (and boy am I glad I did!). However, if you don’t have a used bookstore near you – or that you’re willing to drive to – then you can purchase a paperback copy from Barnes and Noble for $18.00 ($16.20 for Members).
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