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Firefly Hollow (Firefly Hollow, #1) - T.L. Haddix A digital copy was provided via NG in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.

Like a moth enchanted by the yellow-orange dancing swirls of a flame, the cover of this book hypnotized me. I have to say, it's very well done and absolutely gorgeous, and the blurb was interesting, too, so it's a no wonder that I instantly requested Firefly Hollow on Netgalley. I know there is a surplus of Romance/PR books out there, but honestly, a lot of those are wasted paper and are very subpar, so I've always been on a hunt for one that would give my heart backflips and somersaults. I may love science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian stories, but like any girl, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. Fortunately, Firefly Hollow does not disappoint, as the content is just as beautiful as the cover.

The enchanting prose took me to an all new world. Haddix's writing has a way of immediately engaging and immersing the reader in the story from the very first page. Even though the pacing is slow, it doesn't feel dragging at all. It was such a delight to read all about Sarah's childhood — her finding a spot by a pool in a mountain where she can spend time by herself, her getting saved by a black and grey wolf from a deadly rattlesnake, etc. — and truly heartbreaking to read Owen's tragic and lonely past, a stage in his life that was full of mistrust and anger. I loved how you get to know the characters deeply and intimately, including their dreams, fears, and insecurities. I felt happy for Sarah when she was able to get a job, felt sad when she lost loved ones; I shared with Owen's sadness and frustrations during his early life, and also shared with his happiness when he found someone to live and die for. Even though these aren't our stories, Haddix made them personal to the reader nonetheless, which only proves how much of an effective writer she is, effortlessly making us fall in love with her characters despite all of their faults and worries.

However, I do lament the fact that the paranormal elements were not as strong as the romance one. Owen is a shifter, you see. He turns into a deer and into a wolf when he is absolutely mentally unstable and full of unwanted emotions. I've always been interested in shapeshifters, especially after reading Written in Red, but its role here is very minimal at best... It was only significant in a few short and early scenes, and then no more. :/...I also felt pretty bummed that after certain characters found out about his true nature, they were very accepting and didn't even question the authenticity, didn't get scared (I mean, I would be afraid, at least at first! That shit is of the fourth dimension, man!)... they just... accepted and then that's it! For a huge chunk of the middle of the book, the paranormal side became almost nonexistent, and then it came back in the end for a few short pages, and then... nothing! No drama out of it, no real astonishment, people just merely accepted it like it was nothing special and a common occurrence in daily life. "Hey, did you know I can shapeshift into a blood-sucking bat?!" "Oh, really? Cool! Now could you pass me the salt, please?" -_- of course it didn't go like that, but it could have well been.

Anyway, I'm well aware the romance was the central part of this book, but I felt that if the PR elements would be this little, then it would have been better if it weren't there in the first place. It's like putting a large scar on a character's face, but the scar is just for decoration; it has really no significance or any value to the character, and for me, that's, well, bullshit. Of course, this is subjective... I loved the story — the characters were well done, the sex scenes were very sensual and romantic (not aggressive at all, very realistic portrayal) — but the shapeshifting thing could have well been dropped and it wouldn't have affected the story either way. Maybe that's just me, but I believe if something is not truly vital and it's just there merely for the heck of it, then it's best to get rid of the thing. There is no need to add something unnecessary.

But overall, 4 stars to the beautiful, poetic writing and the character development of the two main characters. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I merely wish the PR stuff had more weight and role, but otherwise, it's a strong 4/5.