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Review

Copper Pennies by Carrie D. Miller

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: https://www.carriedmiller.com/
SERIES: The Red Twins
PUBLISHED: July 13, 2019 by FiveFold Press
PAGES: 364
GENRE: Dark Fantasy, Thriller, Horror

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Blurb

Magda stands in the moonlit cemetery waiting for the spell to work, for her lover to return. But what’s done can’t be undone, and Magda will learn she should have left him in the ground. 

When twins Avery and Chloe Parsons receive a cryptic letter and a sinister-looking book filled with illegible scrawls from their grandmother, the sisters set out for Prague to check on her. 

Drawn to a cracked crystal ball in a curiosity shop, Chloe discovers it harbors the spirit of their grandmother, who tells them a horrific tale of lust, naïveté, betrayal, and… demons.

Armed with a book of dark magick they can’t read and a cracked crystal ball, the twins must stop Magda’s resurrected lover before he releases an unstoppable force that will consume the human world.

Across continents and nearly a century, follow the adventures of three strong-willed women: one seduced by evil, one struggling to withstand the lure of power, and one trying to save her family—and the world.


ALSO REVIEWED AT: Goodreads

Death is not the end, my chosen one.

Across decades and generations, a single man craving power threatens to rend the barrier between worlds, bringing about horrors humankind has never before encountered. A young woman, wife to an abusive husband, blinded by lust and love and acceptance, seeks solace and warmth in the arms of another man. She gives herself to him completely, but his intentions are shadowed by darkness and deceit. Armed with a broken heart and a book of skin and blood, she must do whatever it takes to prevent the man she once devoted everything to from bringing ruin to the world, even if it means placing her own granddaughters in the direct path of a monster.

Copper Pennies is the first entry in The Red Twins series and is a story of the constant battle of morality – fighting the urge to do what’s desired, and instead doing what’s just. Part dark fantasy, part thriller, part horror, it is a tale that focuses on balance, and the concept of being comfortable in your own skin, as well as your abilities, in order to affect others in positive ways. Miller takes us on an emotional and unsettling journey through time fueled by the power of lies and the obligation to fix mistakes of the past, as Magda seeks redemption for the naivety that has brought humanity to the brink of an unfathomable future. This book sank its claws into me within the first few chapters, and still refuses to let go even after the last page has been turned.

The inventive structure of this book made this feel as though I’ve read two separate stories, seamlessly threaded together to construct a wildly creative and unique narrative. Part I, which I’ve designated “The Past”, mainly follows Magda’s arc beginning in the 1930’s as she falls for Dr. Josef Straka, upending her life, then flees from Prague due to impending occupation during the war, finding a home in the United States. Around 50 years later she rescues a young mother of twins from an abusive relationship – a kindred spirit, perhaps? – and adopts the family as her own. The end of Part I marks a lifetime of deceit crashing down around her. Part II, which I have designated “The Awakening”, is set in the modern day, and follows the twins, now adults, as they work to right the wrongs unintentionally perpetrated by their grandmother.

This shift in focus, as well as the extended timeframe the story exists in allows for some deeply emotional moments as we connect with characters on profound levels. We share in Magda’s joy and sorrow as as we witness her age from a young woman towards and into elderliness. We observe as the twins, Avery and Chloe, grow from toddlers into teens into strong young adults, rejoicing in their achievements, and hurting alongside them when they face failure. Attending these milestone moments in their lives, it’s almost as though the reader is brought into this patchwork family, as well, forcing them to feel just as the characters do. The hope is uplifting. The betrayal is heart-wrenching. The anger is palpable. The worry is distressing. In all honesty, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so invested in characters I’ve just become acquainted with.

Miller wonderfully portrays different time periods through the use of crisp, clean writing, references specific to that time and place, and an immersion that doesn’t rely too heavily on the details. She leaves a good amount to the imagination, letting the mind paint its own pictures, which I always appreciate in a book. Her prose leans towards the simplistic, focusing more on the emotional aspects of this story, making this an easy-to-follow and incredibly engaging read.

The thriller/horror aspects that build the core of this story are extraordinarily developed. The gritty and sinister magic and rituals are built upon a deep history and a concrete set of rules, leading to some interesting consequences for those who dare break them. The vividly imaginative facets that imbue the world that are gradually revealed continue to add a renewed sense of wonder, leaving the reader craving more. I’ll readily admit I know I shouldn’t like him, but I found Josef Straka extremely intriguing, and an excellent antagonist. His arrogance and willingness to sacrifice anyone or anything in order to obtain what he covets allows him to perfectly portray an evil practitioner of the dark arts. Innate and borrowed magic, bloody rituals, the occult, demons, and more, this book has everything you’d need in a dark paranormal thriller.

Copper Pennies ties up its particular plot nicely, but leaves us with a crushing cliffhanger. Miller has set us off to embark on a captivating journey with all sorts of secrets hiding in the darkness, and I cannot wait to continue on beside the twins in the future.

Note: A huge thank you to the author for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Justine Bergman

Web developer by trade, ravenous reader, excited reviewer, dark fantasy enthusiast, mother of pups, drinker of strong coffee, and player of games. I'm also a contributor over at Fantasy Book Critic and The Fantasy Hive, and I love sharing the love.

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