Title: Secret Legacy (The Windhaven Witches #1)
Author: Carissa Andrews
Review: I didn’t much about Secret Legacy going into it purely because it was tagged on Amazon as horror and I prefer going into those books knowing nothing about them. We are introduced to Autumn Blackwood who has been accepted into Windhaven Academy even though she is adamant that she didn’t apply to the school. Windhaven is a university for the supernatural, the acceptance confuses Autumn since she is completely mundane but her mother’s reactions to the letter and the fact someone has fully paid for Autumn’s education there makes me think she isn’t mundane. The letter also mentions her lineage and a legacy which intrigues Autumn to the point where we know she is going to be attending Windhaven Academy whether she wants to or not. Shortly, after the argument with her mother she meets Wade in the cemetery although she doesn’t learn his real name for a little while. It turns out he is going to Windhaven Academy too as he has some physic abilities but not this year since he has to care for his dying grandfather, but he offers to attend the initiation with Autumn which is known as the Witching Stick. So far, Secret Legacy is interesting, I am not usual into paranormal books, but the occult and horror tags have me interested to see where the author goes with this set up.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, we get some development on the friendship between Autumn and Wade, although I wasn’t thrilled with how quickly they became more than friends, but he seems like a nice guy. However, in these kinds of books the nice guys always seems to have a hidden agenda of some sort. Autumn has made the decision to attend Windhaven but she needs somewhere to stay so she decides to contact her father and see if she can stay in their ancestral home, Blackwood Manor but she is having trouble getting hold of him so she decides to pay him a visit. The family dynamic here is interesting as Autumn’s parents are separated but I feel there is more going on there than Autumn knows. When we meet her father and he mentions the Manor is his legacy and he is has been waiting to tell/show her a lot of things, I am convinced that Autumn is supernatural and whatever abilities she has will have come from her father. As Autumn prepares to leave for Blackwood Manor, Wade was beginning to grow on me as he is super sweet and more than a little dorky but the insta-love kind of grated on me a little. However, soon after arriving she begins to notice strange things around the Manor like cold pockets but the strangest thing is a woman’s voice welcoming her home but there isn’t another soul in the Manor other than her father and the housekeeper that are both male. Autumn mentions this to Wade and he believes there might be a ghost there, but I have a feeling it is more than that and Autumn’s time at Windhaven might help her unravel the mysteries of her family.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, nothing much has happened so far, but the slightly creepy atmosphere keeps the reader hooked for something more substantial. We do get more substance to the novel as Wade and Autumn attend the Witching Stick only to learn it has been cancelled because two children have gone missing. Originally, I thought Windhaven was a university, but it seems to be more like Doctor X’s school as the two children who disappeared are only ten. In the aftermath, Wade and Autumn see someone vandalising her car and he scratches the truth shall set you free into it, but Autumn doesn’t understand why this was done. She and Wade have the house to themselves and are doing what normally 20+ people do when a vase breaks by itself and we get a small glimpse of Autumn’s power her as she restores a rose which was damaged when the vase breaks but she thinks nothing of it at the time. When she starts school properly she realises how little she knows about the supernatural world that to Cat and her twin brother Colt, Cat seems utterly freaked out when she realises that Autumn lives at Blackwood Manor and the writing on her car and warns her not to wander around by herself especially near the pond, which happens to be the same place the children went missing. Autumn is beginning to believe all these events are connected, the strange things at the Manor, the writing on her car and the children going missing but she doesn’t seem to be doing much investigating beyond discovering a hidden door in her room, which is missing its handle.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, Autumn learns that it was a boy called Dominic that scratched her car, but Cat warns her to stay away from him because of who his family is, but Autumn isn’t going to let it slide. After confronting Dominic, he agrees to tell her why he did it but when Cat refuses to say something that Dominic felt was important, she leaves without learning anything. As she can’t get a straight answer out of Cat or Dominic, Autumn decides to ask Colt what he knows, and he tells her everything will become a lot clearer once she knows the history of Windhaven and the Blackwood family. The trio head to the library where Autumn learns her ancestors were one of the founding families that created Windhaven but her so many greats grandmother died in the house, seemingly of suicide and Autumn is freaked out because she saw her die when she held onto the banister but she doesn’t say anything about it. As the mystery deepens, I was hoping something big was going to happen soon as we have only seen small things, but Autumn doesn’t seem particularly motivated about figuring out what is going on. I also wish Wade was around more often as both Colt and Dominic are being presented as possible love interests but honestly, I prefer Wade.
As we cross into the second half of the novel, things are getting interesting. Autumn is learning more and more about her family history and her powers are emerging. She is not only seeing and hearing Abigail but when she touched the rug where her body lay, flames erupt from her hands, the same way they did when Colt touched her hand. Abigail leads her to the door handle for the door in her room but her father turns up so she can’t take it and see what is behind the door. However, later that night an ominous glow appear from behind the door and Autumn is beginning to think that her father might be in league with the creature many believe took those two children. When she discusses this with Cat and Colt, they tell her that someone has blocked her memory which is why she remembers being locked her in room in the Manor as a child when she actually locked herself in there and only came out to eat. It also explains why she doesn’t remember Cat and Colt who were her friends when she was only little. Her father does explain a little saying that he and her mother thought it was best for her to grow up away from Blackwood Manor and the supernatural, but he didn’t believe she would be completely ignorant of her world. This isn’t the end of it as Colt informs Autumn that one of the psychics at the school told him to warn of her about Wade. When she asks Wade about this, she sees an angry side to him she hasn’t seen before but honestly, she hasn’t known him that long, but she decides that if no one is going to be honest with her, she needs to find the information herself.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, things were really getting tense as the creepy atmosphere intensifies. Things begin to get serious when Wade unexpectedly comes to visit and Dominic takes an immediately disliking to him telling him that he needs to tell Autumn the truth about what he is and he does begin to before he is called away as his grandfather has taken a turn for the worst. In between this we see Autumn showing Cat and Colt the basement alter she found which is the same one she saw Abigail using in her vision and as Abigail was a necromancer, we know that this is what Autumn’s power is. However, things get really strange as Dominic rushes over interrupting the conversation Autumn was having with her father about her disappearance as a children where the creature took her away and killed her but she resurrected herself to tell her that Cat has been involved in a car accident and they need her help. Obviously, Autumn is distressed not only because her friend could possibly be dying but because she doesn’t really know how to use her powers.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, Autumn rushes to Cat’s aid but her power isn’t working before they group can do anything the creature appears wanting to take Cat’s soul because she is what it calls a Gemini twin. After temporarily getting rid of it, the group head to her house for the basement alter she needs to save Cat’s life. Abigail surprisingly is the one to help Autumn find and use her powers to save her friend and her father is also there to lend support as Cat is going to need a lot of time to heal. However, there is still something to come as the creature warned Autumn her time was running out and she suddenly gets a phone call from Wade telling her his grandfather has died and he wants her to return home so he doesn’t have to be alone but I have a feeling he wants her to use her powers to bring him back which she isn’t going to be able to do without help. The ending of Secret Legacy wasn’t what I was expecting and honestly it left me a little confused. I don’t want to talk about it much as it runs into major spoiler territory, but I will have to pick up the second novel in order to work out what on Earth that ending was. Secret Legacy was a very solid opening to a dark, creepy occult horror/thriller series and I will definitely be picking up the next one. The only draw backs for me was the insta-love between Autumn and Wade although I did appreciate that their relationship reflected their age and the first half of the novel was a little slow pace and confusing without much driving the story forward but the second half and the ending made up for that.
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I received this review copy from Xpresso Tours