The Phantom by A.W. Hart

When this action-packed, intriguing novel begins, casino employee Rhiannon tells her co-worker Marie to go ahead and leave early on New Year’s Eve. When she is leaving the casino a couple of hours later, Rhiannon feels as though she is being followed and watched by someone or something unpleasant, which dovetails with some of the unsettling nightmares she has been having. As she is driving home, Rhiannon receives a call from her friend Pam and learns that Marie, the co-worker who left early, was savagely murdered, her heart removed. Shocked and frightened, Rhiannon holes up at home with her bloodhound, Ellie, and tries to relax. The next morning, Rhiannon finds a man in her yard – the same one she has seen in her dreams. Jack Blackthorne has a mission: to protect Rhiannon at all costs.

The reader learns that in the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, many strange events occur. People often report seeing unusual creatures, along with the occasional ghost. These instances are due to the town being located at one of the gates of Hell, and all kinds of nasty things like to come through. A former Templar, Blackthorne’s purpose is to guard the gate. Rhiannon discovers that her own fate is tied to both the gate and to Blackthorne, and her journey involves battling both real and metaphorical demons.

Hart skillfully creates interesting and well-drawn characters, as well as a fresh vampire mythos. In addition, the narrative contains a juxtaposition of some fairly graphic violence tempered by a healthy dose of humor. Hart’s descriptive passages are almost lyrical in spots: “The blue eyes were faded with memory, the arrogance of youth replaced with cynical amusement” (Chapter 9). Suspense is effectively maintained throughout the story, and the author does not shy away from removing characters. Fans of both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance should enjoy this exciting book.

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When this action-packed, intriguing novel begins, casino employee Rhiannon tells her co-worker Marie to go ahead and leave early on New Year’s Eve. When she is leaving the casino a couple of hours later, Rhiannon feels as though she is being followed and watched by someone or something unpleasant, which dovetails with some of the …

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About Carol

A book reviewer and editor at Bitten by Books since 2008, Carol reads extensively in the urban fantasy genre, and also writes the column on genre television, Screen Bites. Serving as the director of the Urban Fantasy track at Dragon Con, Carol also works at Coastal Magic (formerly Olde City, New Blood), and AnachroCon, and for the last three years has been one of the organizers for a small literary festival in the town where she lives. When not reading, writing reviews, or working at conventions, Carol spends as much time as possible with her three amazing grandsons.

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