By: Manuela Soares
“Afterall, it was midnight marking the bridge between the twenty-second and twenty-third days in October, twenty-four hours before the train would take on passengers, twenty-four hours until she would board it and be carried off to an alien place to face the enemy.”
That is a quote from the second paragraph of chapter one, which opens the book in such a haunting and intriguing way. This was a book that I came across on Amazon, I believe, and while the summary and title caught my attention, I ended up winning a copy of this through the Goodreads Giveaways program. I wasn’t sure what to fully expect going into this, the summary sounded good and was vague enough that the entire premise wasn’t given away. At first, I didn’t realize it was two books in one, I just started reading without looking at the contents page; I didn’t realize there was another book until I finished book one and there was still a lot of book left to read.
Book one, The Hallowmas Train, follows Azur Moonstorey, Dillian (Dilly) Witherton, and Dr. Xavier Tennyson (XT) Barkley as they go on a mission to save Azur’s missing sister Hilma and find out the truth about Dilly’s ancestor who was said to be a murderer. The plot involves mystery, supernatural elements, and time travel; all of which sounds great. Book one wasn’t too bad, it had some good parts and characters and some not-so-great parts and characters.
The second part, called Book 2: Black Springs Abbey, jumps forward five years, after the end of The Hallowmas Train, and follows Hilma this time as she’s trying to find herself after the events of book one. After feeling lost since her return, she ends up getting a job at Black Springs Abbey, which, at one point in time, was a home for unwed mothers. This is important as Hilma can now see ghosts, and there are a few ghosts that are about the abbey that turn out to be girls that were there when they were pregnant but mysteriously disappeared at some point. Needless to say, events unfold to solve the mystery of these ghosts, as well as Hilma having to face the Hallowmas Train and everything that goes with it again to seemingly get closure.
Book one was decent, it was a quick and engaging afternoon read. Book two, on the other hand, while also a quick read, wasn’t as engaging or enjoyable for me. Black Springs Abbey had so much potential, but it was somewhat convoluted and felt rushed at times; not to mention the ending wasn’t much of a mystery. Also, one of the main villian-y plots that are featured in both stories, feels like it should have been more thorough and had more history of it given. It would have been a great addition to the world-building that was done, and the main villain character wouldn’t have seemed so ridiculous; he could have been terrifying and not just seemingly scary.
Overall, it was a decent and solid 3-star read. Both books are interesting ghost stories filled with a lot of mystery that keeps readers going. It would be a good read during the spooky season or if you’ve got a few spare hours and want to read something entertaining that doesn’t require analytical thought.
Have you read The Hallowmas Train? What did you think?
This review will also be posted on Fathoms Amidst the Lines and Goodreads.