Ｔｉｔｌｅ：Secrets of Skin and Stone
Ｓｅｒｉｅｓ： Book 1 (Can be read as a standalone)
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ： ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：Thanks to NetGalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review!
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.
✩ Piper had to be one of my favorites because she was quirky, smart, troubled, and (most importantly) she was stubborn
as hell. Sorry, Piper, I profaned. Although she definitely liked Gris, she was completely determined to break things off with him if she felt like he was holding back. She demanded honesty above all else, especially since she opened up to him about so many things she’d never shared with anyone else.
✩ Dick, although a minor character, was likable because of his protectiveness over Piper. It was a very father-daughter relationship that I could get behind. Also, I might have liked him just a tad bit because he threatened to spit in some people’s food that were bullying Piper. He was kinda known for that too if you didn’t give him a good tip for Piper Specials. It’s totally gross but at the same time hilarious that it was a threat he used.
✩ Gris’s Father also didn’t show up very much. He was another minor character that showed up a few times and had his great moments. The way Gris painted him made me think he was a more distant father who had a tough-love mentality, but he always seemed pretty cool when they had phone calls/text messages. He was willing to help Gris every time he called, but he also really tried to give Gris space and grow as a Watcher. I’m really hoping we get to see more of him in the next book. I’d really like to see what he thinks of Piper.
✩ Gris was pretty independent, which was a bit surprising. I mean, he was very disciplined and responsible. He was especially good at charming people and knowing just what to say. Even Piper wasn’t immune.
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.”
✩ I also liked Gris transformation making sense. His clothes didn’t just disappear when he changed. In fact, he usually just shredded through them if he wasn’t careful.
“Usually my nightmare monsters don’t talk. You’re sorta breaking the rules here.”
✩ I like smartass characters so it’s also another reason why I liked Gris’s father.
“Do you know anything about the grave that was robbed?”
“I heared it was some dead guy’s.”
✩ Plus, their exchanges were pretty entertaining as well. It was nice that they could joke like this, it’s how you can tell they have a strong relationship.
“Is there a cellar? I’d bury annoying relatives in the cellar if it was me, rather than spring for a funeral. You’re lucky you’re the favored son; we might get you a pine box.”
“Whatever, Dad. Remember I’m your only child and responsible for picking out your retirement home.”
✩ Piper also had her funny moments. One thing I liked about her in terms of her relationship with Gris was that she was always ready to protect herself. If Gris wasn’t honest with her then she reminded him that she didn’t need him, and she’d find a way to move on. It wasn’t like a guilt trip kind of thing, but rather more about facing the reality that he kept saying he was going to leave eventually so if she was investing so much knowing that, then he could at least put in as much effort as well.
“My cousin hasn’t seen me in my Watcher form.”
“Yeah? Do you know what he says in his sleep? Do you kiss him?” I swallowed more tears before saying, “If you do, don’t tell me ’cause that’s so wrong.”
✩ And just because Gris was really coming. “I’m secretly a gargoyle!” Not so secretly wears gargoyle shirts and has his gargoyles on his phone/computer backgrounds.
He was wearing the gargoyle shirt he’d worn before. “What?” he asked as he climbed through the window.
“I like that shirt. It’s like you’re flipping off the world when you wear it.”
Right off the bat, this book sets itself apart by creating a race of gargoyles called Watchers that are tasked with protecting humans from evil spirits or fiends that feed off negative thoughts and feelings. I can’t say that I’ve read any other books based on gargoyles so I was interested for that reason alone. I think this is something readers can really get behind. They don’t have a whole separate world or anything, but I think they work along the same lines as Hunters from Supernatural: they have jobs they do across the world for people, towns, government, etc (I gathered this from his father taking on a job protecting some foreign dignitaries). Did that get your attention?
The story is told in alternating points of view between the two main characters: Gris, a Watcher, and Piper, a resident of Hidden Creek.
The story starts out with Gris riding into town. Gris is doing his first job on his own. It’s supposed to be a simple one but it doesn’t exactly turn out that way. On his first day, Gris rides past an area overrun by fiends. He’s exhausted but really wants to prove himself. Luckily, he thinks twice about it and decides that taking them all on in that moment wouldn’t be very smart.
Piper’s pov follows, setting up the stage for her and Gris to interact. She wakes up and steps outside to find her dog brutally murdered, which starts her on her investigation to find out who’s responsible (and makes her be suspicious of Gris for a while). From here the story just progresses into them working together to find out what’s going on with the town since it’s had disappearances, animal killings, violence, and it’s overrun with fiends.
One thing that I can really appreciate with this book is that it doesn’t do info dumps! It builds up the world and terminology of Watchers little by little so that it’s not overwhelming and so that it flows smoothly into the story.
I think Gris was likable as a character. He was really polite, charming, and disciplined–which I guess you have to be if you’re going to be tasked with protecting other people. You can’t very well be irresponsible with other people’s lives, right? He was different in that I’m so used to reading about really sassy or sarcastic male characters so this was a nice change. The one thing that I might not have liked too much was the amount of times he had to repeat that he was into Piper. I mean, there was a moment when he said that even her counting (in her sleep) was turning him on. And that’s a little weird. Just a bit.
Before we talk about Piper, I think it’s only fair that I let you guys know that the book does talk about self-harm. Piper has a form of OCD that gives her an urge to cut herself. This was something that Laine decided to make a part of Piper because of her own personal experience with this condition. I think it’s very brave of the author to share that and really great that she used this book to raise some awareness about these topics.
Being a cutter makes Piper more vulnerable to fiends because of her “dark” thoughts. She’s constantly telling herself that she’s a bad person, and cutting herself to make up for things she perceives to be her fault. She also has some interesting little quirks like the fact that she counts in her sleep, sleepwalks, hates answering questions, and eats some really
weird interesting things.
What I liked about Piper was how she had her bad moments when she felt down or was hurting herself, but she could still be really funny and dream big. She wanted out of Hidden Creek and was really smart. Plus, she was a strong female character. She didn’t let Gris hold her back in anything, tell her what to do, and she was really cautious about their romantic relationship of we’re-dating-but-not-dating.
All in all, I think this was a pretty solid read. The only thing that really knocked it down a star for me was the ending. It all picked up really suddenly and the big reveal of who was behind all the trouble in Hidden Creek was fairly obvious and (like I said) rushed. But really, this is a book worth checking out, and I’m really hoping we get to see a sequel for this soon.
This book just came out on June 5th so definitely go check it out in stores or online!