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Lucy Holden
Red Magnolia
Lucy Holden, author
Decadent. Dark. Devastating. Seventeen-year-old Harper Ellory knows the ruins of the past are a dark place for a new beginning. Then she meets Antoine Marigny, and discovers just how seductive darkness can be. After the death of her twin sister, Harper dreams of a new life. But not only is the Mississippi mansion she moves into cursed, it’s also Antoine Marigny’s family home. Now he wants it back—no matter the cost. Harper’s seen too much death to be frightened off by a curse. But Antoine is a different kind of threat. He has an infuriating smile, an annoying habit of turning up when she least expects it, and a frustrating knack for getting Harper to talk about things she’d rather keep hidden. Like her emotions. Antoine is also keeping secrets of his own. Secrets that Harper suspects are far darker than the curse he says he wants to protect her from. Harper knows Antoine is dangerous. Part of her wants to take his offer and run. No dream is worth dying for. But Harper is done running from death. She’s ready to make an offer of her own. An offer destined to turn Antoine Marigny’s life upside down. Even if it means binding herself to the curse forever. Red Magnolia is the bewitching first installment of the Nightgarden Saga, a heart wrenching YA/NA paranormal romance series, full of Southern Gothic atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and shocking twists that will keep you turning pages deep into the night. If you’re a fan of The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, and romance that rips your heart out, you’ll love the Nightgarden Saga. Red Magnolia is a YA/NA paranormal romance that is sweet with heat, without any explicit language or scenes, suitable for ages fourteen and up. The first in a series of seven, it can be read as a stand alone or as part of the series.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot: A paranormal romance that is suitable for young adults, this book takes on a southern Gothic charm while creating suspense and drama. Unpredictable twists in the plot keep the reader interested and wanting to know what is going to happen next. Intriguing and engaging, most readers will want to continue reading more beyond this first installment in The Nightgarden Saga.

Prose/Style: An accessible read and appropriate for a young adult audience, the story is engaging and creates a consistent surreal mood. At times the reader struggles to know which male character is speaking and must backtrack for clarification.

Originality: Fans of vampire novels will find this intriguing with twists throughout. While there are some details that are reminiscent of L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries, there are enough differences to make this a unique experience for those that enjoy this genre. The history behind the area tribe is well-researched and engrossing for the reader.

Character Development/Execution: The characters awaiting in the shadows, as well as those who are hearing the history lesson for the first time along with the reader, are smart and cunning. Those characters that give off a mystical vibe prove to be supernatural and mysterious. The romance between the mortal and immortal characters proves to be a pleasant addition to the story.

Date Submitted: June 16, 2021

This inspired paranormal romance, the first book in Holden’s Nightgarden Saga, introduces 17-year-old high school student Harper Ellory as she struggles with mysterious occurrences at her new home while coping with the recent loss of her twin sister, Tessa. Devastated by her sister’s death, Harper and her newly appointed legal guardian, Connor, purchase the Marigny mansion, a decayed Gothic-style estate along the Mississippi River. Connor secures a restoration grant in the hopes of building a home where they can be a family, a place they can always come back to. However, the mysterious Antoine Marigny, a descendant of the original landowners, stands in the way of their dream, along with a curse and the spirits of two vengeful vampires. To save her home and break the centuries-old curse, Harper teams up with Antoine—only to find herself enamored of the man who unsettles but fascinates her in equal measure.

Holden sets a fast pace, starting with a prologue that thrusts readers into Harper’s grief-stricken world. The momentum continues as mythical elements surrounding Harper’s new home are quickly introduced, and Holden establishes what’s at stake for Harper and Connor. As she hears voices and wonders about Antoine’s motives, Harper’s character proves wise beyond her teenage years, moving the story into new adult territory, as does the complex, distinctive relationship she and Antoine develop.

With a seeming effortlessness, Holden constructs a plot that weaves together elements of mystery with young adult romance and Southern Gothic fantasy. The heat level is mild at best, and while there is a significant age gap between Harper and Antoine, Holden cleverly keeps the steam appropriate yet intense. Although at times the romance takes a backseat to fantasy elements in the plot, fans of these genres will quickly become engrossed in this paranormal saga of ancient magic and generational curses.

Takeaway: This young adult romance combines paranormal and Southern Gothic elements into an intriguing, unconventional love story.

Great for fans of: Lauren Kate, L. J. Smith.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A+
Marketing copy: A