Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.
Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.
To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Secrets of Skin and Stone
By Wendy Laine, Kate Brauning
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Hayson Manning
All rights reserved.
The last stretch on the motorcycle always seems the longest. Even the cooling breeze, rich with the scent of grassy fields and cedars, wasn't keeping me awake. I was dog tired. I stopped to stare at the sign leading to the town I'd be spending my next few weeks in. After taking off my helmet, I peered at the quaint sign with its fancy, uptight font. Hidden Creek, Population: 1136.
I snorted a laugh. How often did this spit-on-the-map Alabama town have to update that sign? Probably not often. Well, it'd have "1137" residents for as long as I was here — which was hopefully not long.
Stretching, I listened to the soft sounds I'd missed due to the roar of my bike. The hum of insects. Something scurried through the underbrush nearby. The light wind slithered across the grass with a hissing sound. My hair felt molded to my head from the long ride.
I inhaled, taking in the clean air. I could appreciate the rural appeal, without wanting to put down roots. These 1136 people had been born here, grown up from those roots, and they'd die here.
Still, it did smell nice.
I shoved my helmet back on. Almost there.
How many fiends could be hiding in Hidden Creek? This was a crap job — a gimme. I'd do it, if that's what it'd take to prove to my dad I was ready to go solo at eighteen. You'd think there'd be enough need for my skills that I could at least get a decent assignment for my first on my own.
My relatives were probably making up stories about the town's fiend infestation so they sounded important. It was telling that they always visited us in the city, rather than the other way around.
The ride to my aunt and uncle's place took me through patches of neighborhoods leading to what I supposed was the town center. After spending so much time in cities like Atlanta, Savannah, Charlotte, and Tallahassee, this itty-bitty town was more constrictive than my riding leathers. The outskirts were scattered fields with obligatory trucks parked in the driveways of darkened farmhouses. What did these people do that they were all in bed by eleven at night? The town was nothing but porch lights and the scent of dinners I was too late for. Maybe my aunt would cook for me sometimes.
Two dogs ran to the edge of their fenced yards and barked at me as I passed. Inside the nearby house, a light flicked on. I was disturbing the peace already. My motorcycle was loud — that was part of why I liked it. But I didn't much care for everyone in town knowing Gris Caso was around. Drawing on my powers, I hushed the sound from splitting the night.
I passed into a less desirable part of town, if the abandoned, falling-down structures and overgrown fields were anything to go by. An ancient tractor was rusting to death and being overwhelmed by tall blades of grass. Beside it, a molding scarecrow looked down in judgement on the blight it was.
A tingling sensation running along my shoulder blades was my first indication that the area wasn't as still and deserted as I'd thought. The hair on the back of my neck stood up straight, despite its sweat-soaked condition.
The heaviness in the air and the screech of fiends were like a wall I plowed into. Holy hell. I skidded to a stop beside an old mill. Its weathered, gray boards were most likely a termite haven and even the attempts at graffiti seemed half hearted. It was eerie, even without its wispy occupants' screeching, providing a horror film backdrop.
Fiends. The damn place was full of them. Squinting, I tried to get a sense of how many were in there. Too many.
Okay. Maybe this job wouldn't be such an insult. Something must have happened there to gather so many of them.
Fiends were nasty creatures, half monster and half spectral. They were drawn to sites of violence and fear, to humans having nightmares, and to those practicing dark arts. They looked like insubstantial versions of Watchers — they could have been my ghost and it was creepy as hell. They didn't have wings, but their frame was similar. They clawed their way out of the shadows at night and crept and slunk around. If normal people could see them, they'd never sleep. Fiends' jaws would drop as they shrieked, and their shiny teeth were hideously long. That was even before you got to their talons. And while they could shrink down, it still seemed like there were a lot of them in that mill.
This was Hidden Creek. There shouldn't be more than a dozen in the whole town.
My back itched from the urge to shift into my gargoyle form. Fiends and Watchers were natural enemies. I was halfway off my bike before I shook off the urge and climbed back on.
Be smart, Gris. You'll live longer.
I'd find out the mill's history and then tackle it — when I was more prepared and after I'd slept. I'd learned the family trade from my father, and his strict set of guidelines hinged on knowing what he was walking into. Research. Hell, I did so much research on crime I was likely on watch lists.
Keeping my motorcycle hushed, I continued on. The draw of the fiends was intense enough that I clenched my teeth while tightening my fists on my bike's handgrips. Not right now. After about a mile, the pull was a background hum and the fiends' shrieks no louder than a distant bug-zapper.
I'd memorized the weird directions my aunt had given me. Small towns had odd points of reference: "when you see the green broken-down combine in a field, take the next left," or "Turn at the stop sign with the bullet holes in the shape of a peace sign."
My cousin was sitting on the front steps of his parents' house when I rode up. He was tossing a wrench in one hand with a lazy sort of grace that ran in the family.
"Problems?" Danny asked after I cut the bike's engine. "You're awfully late. Thought you'd be here hours ago."
"Late start and I hit traffic coming out of Atlanta." I parked the bike on the road.
Leaving behind the wrench, my cousin got to his feet, holding up a jingling set of keys. "Here they are. I wouldn't expect much. Mama went over and cleaned it up some, but it still looks like it was beaten with the ugly stick."
Across the street from their house was my new abode. The Ritz, it was not. My cousin's folks had bought the property with the intention of bulldozing the house, but they'd never gotten around to it. The house couldn't have more than three or four rooms. It looked blue, but even my Watcher's vision wasn't good enough to make out color at this time of night.
Why hadn't they turned on a porch light?
My aunt and uncle probably figured they were doing me a favor letting me stay in the house, but I was taking care of the town's fiend population without the usual paycheck coming my way.
My next job, I'd be on my own and earning a paycheck.
"Here, Grisham," Danny said, "catch!" He threw the keys wide so I dove and caught them with the tip of my finger. My cousin laughed.
"Thanks." I didn't call him on using my full name though he knew it annoyed me.
"Sure thing. Be sure to lock up. Wouldn't want the fiends to bite."
Shaking my head, I turned away. The house didn't look any better up close. I walked through the front gate and let it slam closed behind me. A wide yawn made my jaw crack. I was going to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow ... at midnight. Midnight! That early was unheard of for me. Watchers owned the night, but it had been a long ride. I'd stubbornly insisted on riding my bike rather than bringing my truck.
After walking my bike to the carport at the side of the house, I dragged what little I'd brought from the saddlebags. I pulled off my boots and left them and my riding leathers beside the bike. A decade of shifting into form every night meant I was more accustomed to walking around barefoot than not. The yard's overgrown grass tickled my feet as I strode through it to the porch. The stairs creaked loudly with each of my steps, but they didn't break.
The only warning I had was a hiss of wind as the shadow took form and slammed against me. My bag fell to the planks as I crashed into a rickety porch swing. One chain snapped out of the porch's roof, and the swing clattered against the boards. I shifted to form, my wings tearing through the shirt I was wearing. I dove at the fiend, meeting the screeching beast with my own roar. Its clawed hand caught the porch swing, yanking it clean out of the roof. We spun, banging into the railing and knocking a spindle loose. I grabbed the wooden rail and swung it like a bat, but it sailed through the fiend as if it were as ephemeral as a ghost. I tossed it aside and crouched down. "I've had a long night, so let's get this over with. This is my family's place, and you've already gone and broken their porch swing."
It shrieked at me.
"Oh, you think you've got problems? I was thinking this town would be a piece of cake. What's with all your buddies at the mill, huh? I thought my great-uncle was blowing things out of proportion."
The fiend made its move, going in high and casting its elongated body toward me. I reached out and grabbed its heart. The fiend disintegrated all around me, the scent of sulfur settling on me like perfume. Great. Fantastic.
I leaned up against the porch railing, breathing heavily. What was up with Hidden Creek? I could taste blood. Damn thing had busted my lip. I'd been sloppy. The porch swing had been in decent shape, too, but now it was kindling. Maybe I could rebuild it if I was around long enough.
With an exhausted sigh, I looked up, staring at the stars. At least I could see those clearer out here. Finally, an upside to this town. If I dragged the fight outside, I could see actual stars when I got knocked on my ass.
Far across the field, a dog barked, and I peered at the white farmhouse up the road. A lone light was on. Somebody was up late. Hopefully, this neighbor's dog was all bark and no bite. Dogs could sense fiends and got all uptight about them. If there were more fiends in this area, and I wanted a peaceful night's sleep, I'd have to deal with those around that neighbor's house first thing. I didn't want to get bitten by their mutt for my trouble.
I had enough things with sharp teeth in my life.
After wiping my dirty bare feet on the straw welcome mat, I pushed into the house and sighed. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. The linoleum was far older than I was and proved that the seventies weren't dead. The ceiling had a few suspicious cracks that might not keep out the rain if it poured. Inhaling, I caught the scent of bleach and pine cleaning solution ... and me. I reeked.
First, a shower. Then, a good twelve hours of sleep. Tomorrow, I'd find out what was dragging fiends to that mill. What ... or who. The thought of somebody gathering fiends unsettled me. My fingertips itched to do the searches on my laptop, exploring the possibilities. I rolled the tension from shoulders and stretched. Not good. Drawing in fiends could turn nasty real fast. I'd seen it, and it made jobs like this worlds more complicated.CHAPTER 2
I walked out my front door, rubbing at the itch on my arms that came with it. Stepping outside was the hard part. It got easier after that. Usually. Not today. The itch only increased.
"Jester?" I shouted. A sour taste settled in my mouth, and my stomach ached.
The guilt came fast on the heels of everything else. Guilt was my closest friend. I'd yelled at my dog sometime after midnight. I'd been trying to get enough sleep before my ACT test, and he'd been barking his fool head off. When he'd finally stopped, it'd been a blessing. Now, I was back from the testing center, and Jester hadn't shown up for breakfast.
Even if dogs could feel sulky about being yelled at, Jester wasn't that dog. He was stupidly cheerful. He spent most days chasing either his tail or butterflies.
I shouldn't have yelled at him.
Stepping off the porch, I shaded my eyes and looked around. "Jester!"
He always, always came when I called, ever assuming I had food for him.
Our yard wasn't so big, only a couple acres. We might even have one of the smallest plots of land in Hidden Creek. But if Jester'd decided to explore the whole town, well, I'd be spending the rest of the day searching for him. I headed toward the shed where Daddy kept the tractor. Maybe he was hiding.
Rubbing the itch from my arms, I stopped and turned. Somebody's eyes were on me, staring at me. Waiting. Watching.
No answer. 'Course there was no answer. There wasn't anybody out there.
An ugly stain crept across the grass right in front of the cheery, yellow outbuilding. I stopped to blink down at it. It lurked a few feet from my white, white sneakers. My toes curled inside my shoes at the thought of that red staining my shoes, getting everywhere. The grass was painted reddish brown. My heart quickened, the thumping beat in my ears. My breath rasped in and out of my throat. I'd seen enough of my own blood to recognize the sight of it.
I rounded the corner and there was Jester, cut open. Everywhere, that reddish brown blood, coating fur and flesh. I'd stepped in it. I'd stepped in the blood. It was staining the tips of my shoes. My white, white shoes were covered in red, red blood.
The screaming started. It went on and on as I stood there and stared at my dog — the blood all over the ground.
Red stain on white shoes.
Red blood on white fur.
So much. So much blood. Tightness pulled at my chest as black dots shot across my vision. The earth rushed up and I fell to my hands and knees.
So much blood.
Mama's footfalls behind me broke through the screaming. She grabbed me 'round the waist, hauling me backward, dragging my shoes away from the staining red-brown blood, while she shouted for my brother. "Dale! Dale! Don't come out here! Don't come! Call your daddy. Just get him on the phone! Piper, it's gonna be fine. It's fine. Piper, stop your screaming. Hush now! Hush!"
I shut my mouth. The shrieking stopped. I gulped in deep breaths and the spots dancing in front of my eyes slowed.
Mama pulled me back to the house. From head to toe, I was numb, other than my throat, which burned. It stung like my throat had bled, too.
When we reached the porch, Mama shoved me at my brother who was holding the phone to his ear. "Dale, take her." Mama leaned over the side of the porch and retched into the rosebushes.
I sucked in deep breaths as I built my wall in my mind, barricading that memory in.
There'd been so much blood.
One brick. Another. A row separated me from Jester — or what once was Jester. I couldn't see him from here — that was another row of bricks. Another brick and another brick.
A dark thought wriggled out of my brain: what had happened after I'd yelled at him? Had I gone back to sleep? All of the awful images of death, both accidental and purposeful rushed forward as if I'd called them. Had I done this? Somehow? Being able to kill and killing weren't the same thing. Being angry and wanting the barking to stop wasn't the same as ending it. I'd never killed anything — even though I could if I wanted to. I couldn't have done this. Could I?
No. Never at my worst. They were just thoughts. Dark thoughts. But just thoughts.
I stared down at my hands. There was blood on them from when I'd fallen. Not much, but some. It hadn't been there before.
Dale shouted questions at Mama.
Water splashed on my hands. Tears streamed along my palms, catching in the creases as I stood there, staring. My numb thoughts were at odds with my stinging throat and the clenching, knifing pain in my stomach.
Jester. My dog. "Jester," I whispered. More tears filled my hands. They ran through the bits of blood, turning my palms into a pink sea. I cupped them so it wouldn't get all over the porch.
I needed to wash my hands. I had to.
I was in the bathroom washing them when Jem walked in, rubbing sleep from her eyes.
"It was so loud," she said.
I grabbed a nearby towel and wiped my eyes. "It was nothing, baby doll. Go back to your nap." The wall between me and what was once my dog was thick enough, now, that I could say that with only a small skip in my words.
Jem's lower lip stuck out in a pout. She was about to dig in and be stubborn. Even at three years old, she shared a stubborn streak with the rest of the family.
"If, um, if you go back to your room, I bet Mama will give you a cookie when you pretend to wake up."
Jem smiled and scampered back to her room. Once upon a time, a cookie would've bought my happiness, too.
I went to my room and locked the door. I could hear the mumble of Mama's and Dale's voices coming from the front room. Mama kept saying, "It was just an animal attack. You got me? An animal killed Jester."
Animals didn't kill like that. They didn't. They didn't cut something open cleanly and just leave it. Daddy would tell her. Daddy might take a bit to get home from work — his Saturday schedule was unpredictable.
Excerpted from Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine, Kate Brauning. Copyright © 2017 Hayson Manning. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine * I Received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review * WARNING-This book talks about self harm, but does not glorify it. stone Since I am from Alabama, when I saw this story was set in my home state I knew I had to read it. Plus I love how creepy the cover looks. The story follows Grisham Caso, or Gris as he likes to be called, and Piper Devon. The book alternates chapters between their perspectives. Gris is a watcher, he can shift into a gargoyle like creature that hunts fiends. Fiends are described as being a ghostlike version of Gris's watcher form, only they don't have wings. Gris is able to manipulate darkness as well. Gris comes to the town of Hidden Creek when his uncle tells him they have a fiend problem. When he gets to town, he finds a large amount of fiends. And they seem to be focused on Piper Devon. After the murder of her dog, Gris becomes a protector for Piper. The two come together to solve the mystery and save their town. One aspect of this book deals with Piper and her OCD. She has anxiety and cuts herself due to that and her OCD. The author did a great job of getting inside Piper's head and allowed you to understand why she did what she did. The author didn't glorify the cutting, she just helps you understand the perspective of someone in that situation. Overall the story is great. It kept me guessing until the end as to who the culprit was. Everything was wrapped up nicely, but could also allow for more books if she decided to do a series. The characters were believable and felt really well developed. I only had a few problems. I did get tired of the word "bedeviled," as it was used often. Sometimes I felt like she tried to make them sound too southern. In the end, this is a quick read and would be perfect for fans of The Legion series by Kami Garcia.
My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!! ***I choose what I read and review based on what intrigues me!! Yes, I got a review copy of this book, but no one tells me what to think, feel, or write about any book! The cover is what intrigued me to check out the book! I’m not sure if this will be a series, but right now it is just a standalone book! It is Young Adult, but it does have some sensitive topics like OCD and cutting. There is some kissing and hand holding, but there is murder and attempted murder and more. I’d say that it is okay for high school students who are okay with all of the above, but I don’t know that I’d go younger than that. Gris and Piper are a matched set of many secrets. They both think they are monsters when really neither are. I love reading about Gargoyles who are guardians and protectors. There is tons of drama in this sleepy little town. You don’t know who is at the heart of what is going on, but I did have suspicions as I read. I really enjoyed this book! I have enjoyed each of the books I’ve read by Wendy though I stick to the paranormal ones which is my favorite kind of books. Wendy does a fantastic job bringing the story to life and making it feel real. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! I recommend this book to fans of gargoyles and perfectly good teens that people judge unfairly!!
This is the type of paranormal novel I want to read more of. Piper, our main heroine, is strong, and yet she doesn't see how awesome she is. Based on Wendy Sparrow's own experiences, Piper struggles with OCD, which manifests itself in the form of cutting. It was intriguing to be inside Piper's head as she fought these demons. She would keep tabs of mistakes she made during the day, and then punish herself for them that night. But she isn't just dealing with her own inner struggles, there are also actual demons that are plaguing her. Enter Gris. He can turn into a gargoyle at will and is trying to rid the town of Hidden Creek from the demons that are plaguing it. As awesome as that sounds, he also struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and trying to live up to his legacy. Gris and Piper both feel weak individually, but they rely on each other to discover their inner strength. This is the type of romance that takes time, work, and trust. Exactly how I like it. If you are looking for insta-love, this is not the book for you. It brings real and serious issues to light in the context of a stellar paranormal story line. The writing drew me in from the beginning, and I loved every minute of it. I am giving Secrets of Skin and Stone 5 out of 5 Stars!
when i read books about supernatural creatures, i tend to read ones about vampires or angels or fairies or demons. i tend to avoid animal shifters because the idea weirds me out. it never occurred to me that you could write stories about gargoyles. but secrets of skin and stone proved to me that you can write a compelling story about a gargoyle. grisham "gris" caso is a watcher, the youngest in his bloodline he's sent to the town of hidden creek on his first solo assignment. he expects it to be an easy, boring kind of job, and that soon enough he'll be back on the road to atlanta. but from his first approach into the town, he senses an unusual amount of fiend activity. so much that at times he worries that he's in over his head. but when all the danger seems to surround piper devon, he wants to be the one to save her. piper has had her fair share of sadness and dark thoughts and demons. sometimes the only way she finds relief is by cutting herself open and bleeding away the pain. she hides her scars from her family. she hides her pain from everyone. but gris can see it. his watcher superpowers render him especially attuned to darkness. it's how he finds the fiends that are torturing piper. and the more he investigates the town of hidden creek, the more obvious it becomes that piper is a target for some reason. gris is certain that all the strange happenings in the town are connected and even more concerning, that they are also connected to his watcher background. so it becomes his mission to protect piper from all of it, but he can't protect her without opening himself up. because she won't trust him without him offering her his trust in return. there's this one scene, where she sees him in his watcher skin and it's the first time he's ever let anyone see him that way, and it is so intimate and poignant and beautiful. they touch each other's skin and scars and stone it doesn't matter, it feels right. and it's just an absolutely lovely moment. this book doesn't shy away from hard topics, the author and the main character have a history of self-harm that is difficult to read about. at the same time, the author's personal struggles really inform the narrative and add a depth and a level of understanding to piper's mental health problems. **secrets of skin and stone will publish by june 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.
Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine I enjoyed reading this book. Secrets of Skin and Stone is an interesting mystery with great characters. I was kind of shocked when the mystery was unraveled. I loved Gris and Piper, their personalities were quirky and fun. The whole Watcher/Gargoyle was something new and different. The fiends were mean and nasty creatures. I think the one thing that really stood out was the connection between Gris and Piper. I'm glad they found each other. I enjoyed their dialogue and they way they felt about each other. I would enjoy reading more from this Author. I give Secrets of Skin and Stone 4 stars for its interesting mystery and great characters. I would recommend this book to young readers as well as Paranormal Fans.
From the first page, I couldn't put this book down. The shadows have never been so deliciously dark with Gris, a shifting gargoyle, protecting innocents from whatever goes bump in the night. He meets his match in the obsessive-compulsive Piper and sparks fly between them. The relationship between Gris and Piper is so sweet, both accepting and loving to each other. Swoon! The mystery and evil that comes out at night had me sitting at the edge of my seat, and I couldn't put the book down. I hope there is a second book, because I'm so needing more Gris. Piper, too. But Gris!
“Secrets of Skin and Stone” is an enthralling YA fantasy that wraps the reader in mysteries that aren’t solved until the end! Grisham (Gris) is a Watcher, meaning he turns into a gargoyle and kills fiends. He is coming to Hidden Creek at his uncle’s request and at no cost (usually he gets paid to take care of fiends) to take care of their fiend problem. Pretty much upon arrival, he learns there is a lot more to Hidden Creek than one would suspect, and they have a fiend disaster. To complicate matters, he starts having feelings for the girl down the road, Piper, and needs to investigate some odd occurrences with disappearances, the murder of animals, and even a grave robbing. Piper is ready to get out of Hidden Creek. She’s turned down dates with most boys in town, and her grades are the best in town, such that she should have her pick of colleges. She is haunted by fiends and nightmares, plus worsening OCD symptoms, which only get worse when she finds her dog, Jester, brutally murdered. When she meets Gris, she enlists his help to figure out who killed Jester and what is going on around town. A bond rapidly forms between the two, and Piper’s natural intelligence drives their case with her knowledge about people and ability to see through lies. Piper and Gris’s relationship was well done- there’s a bit of instant attraction, but they spend a lot of time getting to know each other before anything really develops. They both have insecurities, and Piper was very quick to write him off when things didn’t go her way (there were 3 or 4 scenes of her walking away), and while sometimes this seemed to be an overreaction, I think it fit with her personality well. The book is less about killing the fiends than it is about the mysteries surrounding the death of Piper’s dog, the Watcher grave which was dug up, and the two teens that went missing (Trina and her boyfriend). There was a lot of guessing which was fun, and I couldn’t really figure it out before the final resolution/conclusions. I enjoy a book that keeps me guessing until the end! This is a really strong story with romance, fantasy, mystery, and adventure, and I loved every second of it! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine! Gris is a shape-shifting gargoyle called a Watcher. He travels to Hidden creek to reside in his relatives' extra house. He meets Piper while she is searching for what attacked and killed her dog, Jester. For some reason, Hidden Creek is full of fiends and that's why Gris has been called to live there. Gris becomes intrigued with Piper and they start a friendship and try to solve the mystery of Jester's death and why there are numerous fiends in Hidden Creek. Piper deals with a specific type of obsessive compulsive disorder and it interested me because of how she handles it in her daily life. The author discusses OCD at the end of the book and opens up with her own experiences of dealing with the constraints and struggles that go along with it. 5 stars for a fun supernatural read for young adults and for the advice and wisdom offered by the author!
Gris has been given his first solo assignment, a simple fiend removal from the small town his aunt and uncle live in. Simple and quick. Well, at least that is what he expected. But he may be in over his head with mysteries and secrets piling up, as well as the danger one teenage girl seems to be in. Piper has a darkness living inside her and the only way she knows to calm it is to cut. When she meets Gris she instinctually doesn't trust him, but he worms his way past her defenses to try and help her with her darkness. But can she really trust him when he says her nightmares are the doing of something supernatural, and not just her consuming inner darkness? Wow, I had no idea what I was getting into when I first started this book. When I fist learned of the book, I was initially lured in by the gorgeous mysterious cover (as I often find myself when choosing what to read next) without any real idea what the story content was except for a vague idea of gargoyles. Well, this was so much more than I expected, and I mean that in the best of ways. The story was compelling, engaging, complicated, mysterious, detailed, scary, exciting, dark and the best part was the characters. I need a solid plot to enjoy a story, but even more than that, I need to be connected and like my character, and I can honestly say that I love Gris and Piper, darkness and all. Gris was just awesome, a force to be reckon with all on his own. He has a family legacy that he has to deal with of being a Watcher (aka someone who can turn into a gargoyle at night to battle darkness or fiends), not something he asked for but that he will uphold to his death. That boy was chock full of integrity, intelligence, intuition with people and a freaking caring soul. I loved Gris (in case my feelings weren't clear). He had the ability to make Piper see herself as he did, when everyone else failed to understand her issues. He needs a hug, and maybe an award for being so patient... Piper was such an interesting character, unlike any other YA character that I have read about. She struggles with a lesser known form of OCD called Pure-O, with symptoms that are not as well known or understood. When I read the author's note at the end it made Piper even more real since her struggles were what the author went through, adding a layer of realism to what is primarily a fantasy story. I liked how stubborn Piper was and how she made Gris (who was more than happy to) work for her trust, not to mention her affection. And man was that girl smart, blowing all her classmates out of the water when it came to grades, yet making her more of an outcast. She appeared to have a tough skin, but inside she was breaking apart, almost to her end. She needed a hero more than anyone, at least someone who would understand her struggle and make her feel so not alone. I expected a fun supernatural story, but instead I was given a complicated scary mess that I absolutely loved. This book appeared to wrap up so I think this is a standalone, but I would love to have more story about Gris and Piper. Actually, I would love to read more from Ms. Laine (aka Sparrow) in general because she was able to create strong, damaged characters that I related to and rooted for, and I fully appreciate that. Anyone looking for a dark paranormal mystery with some romance splashed in needs to read this story. I received this title in return for my honest review.