Decent debut effort w/room for more
In Lisa Magnum's debut novel, The Hourglass Door, Abby is in her final year of high school with everything in place - a dependable boyfriend, two best friends, and an assistant director position for the school play. Inside, though, she's itching for more. After alluring Italian exchange student Dante walks into her life, things begin to change. Time stops, literally, when Abby is with Dante, and he has many secrets (days-long disappearances, gloves around his wrists all the time) that may put both of them in mortal danger.
Magnum's writing was easily readable, and the story centers on an original concept for a paranormal romance that includes historical and inventive components (no wolves, vampires, zombies, or fallen angels here). The story arc was interesting, and pacing was pretty good. The first half of the book depicts a strong net of family and supportive characters for the main character, Abby, which is often not seen in other books.
However, character development wasn't nearly as strong. The two main characters, Abby and Dante, were likeable, but I didn't love them or their romance. The familiar set-up of a good girl being drawn to a threatening guy was similar to almost all other paranormal romances. Side characters seemed like caricatures after the first half of the book, and character inconsistencies in behavior cropped up. In the writing, some phrases and descriptions became noticeably repetitive. Though the language and actions in the book were very clean, which many people may like, the characters' dialogue sometimes suffered for it by seeming fake. Despite these clean parameters, there's also one action between a student and a teacher that I couldn't believe could happen without repercussions. Some inconsistencies or unexplained portions of the supernatural events and their mythology provided plot holes. The ending was fairly conclusive, but there was an obvious set-up for a sequel, which left things feeling somewhat unfinished.
In all, this was a decent debut novel from Magnum with a unique concept for a typical young adult paranormal romance. Though I didn't think about the book much after I closed the cover, I plan to check out the sequel, The Golden Spiral (Book 2 in the Hourglass Door Trilogy), when it comes to the library. I'd like to see where Magnum takes the mythology and the relationships between Abby, Dante, and the other characters.