Nora Roberts presents the first novel in a compelling trilogy about three brothers bound by fate, blood, and a timeless enemy.
In the town of Hawkins Hollow, it’s called The Seven. Every seven years, on the seventh day of the seventh month, strange things happen. It began when three young boys–Caleb, Fox, and Gage–went on a camping trip to The Pagan Stone…
It is only February, but Caleb Hawkins–descendant of the town founders–has already seen and felt the stirrings of evil. Though he can never forget the beginning of the terror in the woods twenty-one years ago, the signs have never been this strong before. Cal will need the help of his best friends Fox and Gage, but surprisingly he must rely on a stranger as well.
Reporter Quinn Black came to Hawkins Hollow hoping to make its eerie happenings the subject of her new book. She too can see the evil the locals cannot, somehow connecting her to the town–and to Cal. As winter turns to spring, they will shed their inhibitions, surrendering to a desire that will grow and form the cornerstone of a group of men and women bound by the fight against what is to come from out of the darkness…
The book starts off with three boys who share the same birthday sneaking into the woods to camp at the Pagan Stone. The stone is said to be haunted and there is local legend around the town and its history. I really enjoyed the young boys enjoying what is left of a summer. They take music, snacks, and contraband their parents wouldn’t approve of.
What I love about Roberts is that she includes fun details about how these boys wouldn’t normally hang out. There was the hippy kid, the middle class kid, and the kid who’s father beats on when he’s drunk. So, you end up getting a very complex character and see how the lives of others intertwine or inhibit relationships with others. Roberts books are mostly about relationships in all forms. This is no exception.
At midnight of their tenth birthday, they decide to make a pact, as boys do, and signed it with blood. They cut their wrists and make a blood pact, hence the title Blood Brothers. Upon their ritual, the ground shakes, fire spouts out of the ground, and they release something dark and sinister. Upon this happening, they notice something strange. One boy who wore glasses, no longer needed them. One who had been scratched up from playing, no longer bared those wounds. One who had welts on his back from his father’s lashing, no longer held those wounds.
For the next seven days, their town is overcome by evil. People who normally were good, killed others, themselves, raped, pillaged. They had hallucinations, a physical overtaking. Then, when the seven days were over, no one had any memory of what took place. The boys never regained their injuries and were, to their surprise, fast healers. They’d get hurt and could heal quickly, with a significant amount of pain, but they’d still heal.
After this night, it happened two more times. After seven years, for seven days their town would be overcome again. Caleb, Fox, and Gage would try to find ways to stop it from happening, from protecting their town, and coming up short. They would do their research on the stone, on the town, learn of their ancestor tied to the town, to the Pagan Stone, and to the evil that lurks there. Yet, are not able to come to a conclusion on how to stop it. How to destroy it.
In this first book in the Sign of Seven trilogy, we focus on Caleb Hawkins and how he’s determined to stopping it from happening again that summer. To gain perspective, he decides to speak to Quinn Black, a woman who writes about haunted small towns. Right up their alley, but he and his brothers are careful not to reveal too much.
Quinn Black knows how to do her research, is knowledgeable, and has a plethora of ideas on how to figure out what it all means. In doing so, she finds that she is connected to the town, to the brothers, and to the Pagan Stone in her own way. This will play a significant role in their journey and their quest. I love the complexity and realness of the characters. Quinn is a woman who loves food but she watches her calories. It’s funny to watch and relatable to those of us who are careful with food. It’s more fun than daunting and not at all do we worry about her having an eating disorder or some such issue.
While they work together, they share an intimate gift. They have the possibility of seeing what was past. It isn’t in the same way, but they share the gift and in sharing that gift, are able to uncover the beginning of the stone and why it came to be. While working together, they give into the desire they share, seemingly drawn to each other, and to their task.
Each character introduction is intended, Roberts is skilled in bringing in characters and giving us hints of what is to come in the rest of the trilogy. For example, you meet Layla Darnell in this book when she drove into town after leaving New York. Layla drove the streets straight to the hotel and to the town without ever having been there and without using a map. Drawn there, as the others were. Added to that, Quinn enlists the help of her friend Cybil Kinski who is a researcher and who also plays a role in the trilogy.
Roberts did an amazing job laying the foundation of Cal and Quinn’s work and how it trickles on to the rest of the trilogy. The romance part of the book is refreshing because the attraction is plainly stated, there isn’t a lot of dancing around, and there isn’t the back and forth of does she or doesn’t she. It is nice to just move forward and see the romance bud and develop over time. Simple and clean.
Finally, you get some teasers of what is to come, which to me can be good. I like to know that there will be further explanations in the trilogy and it keeps the reader engaged. A well-put together story.
For Fox, Caleb, Gage, and the other residents of Hawkins Hollow, the number seven portends doom – ever since, as boys, they freed a demon trapped for centuries when their blood spilled upon the Pagan Stone.
Their innocent bonding ritual led to seven days of madness, every seven years. And now, as the dreaded seventh month looms before them, the men can feel the storm brewing. Already they are plagued by visions of death and destruction. But this year they are better prepared, joined in their battle by three women who have come to the Hollow. Layla, Quinn, and Cybil are somehow connected to the demon, just as the men are connected to the force that trapped it.
Since that fateful day at the Pagan Stone, town lawyer Fox has been able to see into others’ minds, a talent he shares with Layla. He must earn her trust, because their link will help fight the darkness that threatens to engulf the town. But Layla is having trouble coming to terms with her newfound ability – and with this intimate connection to Fox. She knows that once she opens her mind, she’ll have no defense against the desire that threatens to consume them both…
Winter turned to spring in the previous book and now we are headed toward summer and the dreaded evil time. I didn’t mention before, but the seven days are aligned with the boys birthdays and therefore makes the timing that much more significant.
While Cal and Quinn shared the gift of seeing the past or having a sense of the past, the next two of the six share a different gift. Fox and Layla share the gift of seeing what the now is. That sounded strange to me when I first heard it, but as the events of the book unfold, it becomes clear.
Fox, the hippy kid, is the small town lawyer in Hawkins Hollow and his longtime secretary, Mrs. H no longer feels safe in town. As she prepares to move away, Layla with the push of Quinn starts working for him. Which is where the romantic subplot of this takes root. Putting people who have to work together, with the same gift, in small quarters only breeds it. This was actually a sweet romantic story with a bit of spice.
As the time of evil approaches, the six start having visions, hallucinations, and experiencing things that are not there. As they discover that Layla now also has a connection to the stone and to the history of the town, things begin to escalate fast. The women find they are connected to the demon and have to come to terms with that fact. The men find they are connected to the person who trapped it.
As Fox and Layla are getting to know each other, Layla is being tested. She isn’t ready to give up her life, accept that she belongs here, and that she is destined to help Fox with her part of defeating the demon. Fox has to work extra hard to gain her trust and to show her how much the six need her. It is crucial that she do so, and when she does, after a lot of kicking and screaming and fighting against it, they use their link to bring the demon down a few more pegs.
In this book, you meet Cybil, another introduction of the six, and you see the demon increase in power. Another great way of keeping the reader engaged and dropping nuggets of what is to come. I enjoyed this book better than I enjoyed the first.
The Pagan Stone
Nora Roberts’ electrifying trilogy comes to an end, as three men and three women join forces–and hearts–to battle the ultimate evil.
Years ago, after their blood brother ritual, Gage, Fox, and Caleb each emerged from the woods with a piece of bloodstone. Now, it will become their weapon in the final fight against the demon they awakened. Winner take all…
Shared nightmares, visions of blood and fire, and random violence begin to plague the longtime friends and the women bound to them by fate. None of them can ignore the fact that, this year, the demon has grown stronger–feeding off of the terror it creates. But now, the three pieces of the blood stone have been fused back together. If only they could figure out how to use it.
A gambling man like Gage has no trouble betting on his crew to find a way. And though he and Cybil share the gift of seeing the future, that’s all they share. But Gage knows that a woman like Cybil–with her brains and strength and devastating beauty–can only bring him luck. Good or bad has yet to be determined–and could mean the difference between absolute destruction or an end to Hawkins Hollow’s nightmare…
In the beginning of this trilogy, I failed to mention that when the boys turned ten, they each had a piece of the blood stone in their hands after the ritual. One, I didn’t want to give too much away, but given it is in the synopsis for the book, I feel it is safe to do so now. This stone is important for the finality of the story. It is now fused back together as a whole and it is up to the final of the six to figure out how to use it.
Gage who has a dark past, including his drunk father, and can’t sit still for long periods of time is irritated. He’s watched his two brothers take to two of the females in their team and know they are headed down the aisle. Knowing he has to work with Cybil, he keeps her at a distance and isn’t shy about telling her he has no intention of following along with his brothers. She’s attractive and has qualities he enjoys, but he doesn’t plan on going there.
Gage and Cybil share the gift of seeing what can become. It is tricky and there are many visions they see that could come. It puts their ability to keep face when they see death of those they care about. It could be fact or it could be a possibility. Neither knows which. They work together to figure out what is what.
I won’t give too much away other than given it is a romance, you know Gage and Cybil do indeed share a romantic relationship, but it isn’t what you would think. You’ll have to enjoy the books to see what I mean.
The finality of this book was done with such brilliance and with the six coming together as a team. You will also learn of the seventh meaning in the trilogy title, Sign of Seven.
I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy demons, magic, and lore. Romance plays a role, but in the mix of all those things. I really loved this one. It was a first time read for me.