YOU CAN READ THE ORIGINAL AND COMPLETE REVIEW AT WORD SPELUNKINGBrina Courtney’s REVEAL offers an intriguing and smart blend of sci-fi, the paranormal, and romance. As a debut novel, it is quite impressive. MY BRIEF SUMMARYHigh school senior Shay can see, hear, and speak to ghosts. A secret she has revealed to no one. But ghosts aren’t the only thing that haunts her. Her father’s mysterious and sudden disappearance years earlier has left her with big questions. After meeting Mr. Tall, Dark , and Handsome himself, Hugh, Shay begins to learn things about who or what she is that she never believed possible. With a dark enemy approaching, Shay must quickly learn to harness and use her abilities. STORYREVEAL has a very original and innovative premise. I’ve never read a book about cryptids-paranormal beings with animal-like traits- before and Courtney’s take on this idea really drew me in and fascinated me. REVEAL is a quick and gripping read. I read it in one sitting, not wanting to put it down chapter after chapter because I simply had to find out what happened next.The paranormal elements are exciting and, while not original in themselves, Courtney has definitely added her own refreshing spin to them. The sci-fi elements are smart and intriguing, and Courtney has clearly done her research in order to present these elements as accurately and realistically as possible.I found myself easily caught up in Shay’s story and the book had me captivated beginning to end. However, the pacing didn’t seem entirely balanced throughout the novel. At times it flowed nicely and at other times it either dragged a bit or moved too fast. The timeframe, or how much time passed between events or chapters, wasn’t always made clear and I found myself confused at times by this. But overall I didn’t find this overly distracting. As I stated above, the sci-elements are innovative, yet realistic. For the most part, Courtney presents these elements with intelligence and explains them thoroughly. I do, however, feel like there were some explanations or sci-fi elements that felt forced or were presented without reasoning. Of course, this is only the first book in a series, so these things may be further explained in future books.Courtney does an excellent job of building up suspense and intrigue, while at the same time focusing on the emotional drive and state of her characters. And while the paranormal and sci-elements are a dominating force in this book, it also has a really great emotional charge as well. Courtney has created a very realistic and moving portrayal of a family dealing with a devastating loss.The ending will leave you with your mouth agape and wanting the next book RIGHT NOW. CHARACTERSThe characters in this book are overall pretty likable. You get to know the characters pretty well and I found them interesting. However, I do think they could use a bit more development and layers.I like that Shay is neither terribly stereotypical nor overly unique. Yes, she can communicate with ghosts, but Courtney has not gone the clichéd and easy route of making Shay a social outcast or deemed as “goth”. For the most part, Shay is “normal” or average, which is not a bad thing at all. I actually really like the contrast between how normal she is as a person compared to how abnormal her abilities are. She’s a smart, realistic teenage character. I did like her a great deal, yet I had a hard time really connecting with her though. Even with the amount of information she learned and the obstacles she was faced with, I don’t feel as if she really grew or evolved as a character…at least not yet.Hugh makes for an interesting enough romantic counterpart to Shay, and I liked that there was more to him than simply being Shay’s love interest. I found Hugh equal parts swoon-worthy and frustrating. There’s an awkwardness to his character that is less endearing and more, well awkward. But, I do think there’s plenty of room for him to evolve as a character.There are a few likable minor characters, such as Shay’s friends Olivia (human) and Jeremy (ghost); Hugh’s mom; and Shay’s brother, creating a well-rounded cast of characters. ROMANCEThe romance between Shay and Hugh plays an important role in REVEAL. For the most part, I enjoyed and rooted for this romance. There’s a sweetness to this first love, but also an enticing and hot chemistry between the two as well. I do think the relationship developed a bit too fast for my liking. I’m not a fan of insta –love, and while this relationship is not quite as instant as insta-love romances tend to be, it did progress quickly. I would have liked to see bit more falling in love and relationship development. But it is a relationship that has the potential to be epic and grand.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: REVEAL is an impressive debut from Brina Courtney. It has its issues and areas that could use improvement, but overall it offers a captivating, creative and enjoyable read.