When Emmy Russo returns to high school in Moncks Corner, South Carolina after summer break, she discovers some changes. First: Mom has a boyfriend. Second: the cute new student, Charlie Fields, is a Rockabilly greaser with a gang who obeys his every command.
I originally participated in a blog tour for It Happened on Thunder Road by Susan Antony as an excerpt spotlight host back in July and the excerpt intrigued me. When Susan contacted me in November to ask for a review, how could I say no? Thanks for the second chance to read your book!
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About the Book
It Happened On Thunder Road
by Susan Antony
Published 12 April 2021
Wild Rose Press
Cover Artist: Kim Mendoza
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Page Count: 292
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Hang on, baby, for the ride of your life.
When Emmy Russo returns to high school in Moncks Corner, South Carolina after summer break, she discovers some changes. First: Mom has a boyfriend. Second: the cute new student, Charlie Fields, is a Rockabilly greaser with a gang who obeys his every command. Third: attractive Keir Harper wants to be more than just her best friend. And fourth: a perplexed Emmy soon finds herself drawn to two extremely different boys. How do you choose between sweet and smoldering?
Then tragedy strikes on desolate Thunder Road. Strange things start happening, with Emmy in the middle of it all. Intent on finding the truth, she must fight for her heart, her life, maybe even her soul. Because someone wants to possess all of Emmy. And they will be together, no matter what the cost. For eternity.
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My Rating: 4 Stars
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It Happened on Thunder Road is one of those stealthy novels that starts out seeming like one thing and then flips everything on its head halfway through. In a small town in South Carolina, Emmy finds herself in the midst of high school romance and drama mixed with crowd nostalgia for the rockabilly age, classic cars, and way too much speed. It starts out as a love triangle story as Emmy finds herself internally at war over her feelings for gentle and sweet Kier and his bad-boy brother Charlie. When tragedy strikes on Thunder Road, everything changes.
This starts out feeling like a modern-day homage to Grease and similar classics and morphs into a paranormal mystery. In the interest of not spoiling the genre-shifting twist I’ll keep my review vague. What I will say is that I really love Emmy, both the character herself and all the interesting choices the author made for her. While I can’t imagine myself getting into the mess she finds herself in, I think if teenage me somehow had, everything she does in response is what I would have done as well. I relate to her quite easily and I think her decision making throughout the novel is realistic for a girl her age in her situation.
Once the mystery element becomes apparent (once Emmy gets suspicious) then the plot really gets interesting and the book becomes unputdownable for the latter half. Watching Emmy tease the truth out into the light only to have every possible road block put into her path had me on the edge of my seat and I may or may not have stayed up far past midnight on the day of my sister in law’s baby shower just because I had to know how it all turned out.
With all of that said, the second quarter almost lost me. The transition from Grease 3 to Supernatural took too long. There’s a lot of important character development and a lot of setting Emmy up to start her sleuthing mission and in hindsight it was well done, but as it was happening I just saw characters I liked changing in ways I didn’t like for reasons that were unclear, and with the amount of pages dedicate to this transition period I did spend a couple of chapters asking myself if I was going to push through or not. Again, I don’t want to give too many specific details lest I spoil the big shift, but let’s say “the gang” becomes a gang with all the angsty wrong side of the tracks drama and violence you’d expect from a high school gang (especially in a story that starts off feeling like Grease) and I was very worried about where the plot was going.
I’m glad I pushed through, though, because as I’ve already said, when the shift starts to happen and Emmy starts to question everything it turns into a completely different book. First quarter: well written but generic modern-day greaser teen romance, 4 stars. Second quarter: seemingly aimless spiral into teenage hell, 2-3 stars. Latter half: YA paranormal mystery worthy of its own episode on Supernatural with a compelling but complicated romance, 5 stars! Overall let’s call it an optimistic 4 out of 5. I honestly don’t now what to say in terms of recommendation because I don’t think this one fits enough category markers to fit it neatly into a niche. I guess if anything about the synopsis or this review has sparked your interest then I whole-heartedly recommend giving it a try!
Content warnings: death of a teenager, car accidents, mild gang violence
About the Author
Susan Antony, an aspiring Renaissance woman, never shies from a challenge. Not only does she have a degree in the Liberal Arts, she has a degree in Automotive Technology. She currently works in the IT department at a local Charleston hospital. Susan lives with her teenaged son and two behaviorally-challenged Cairn Terriers. To maintain her sanity, she cherishes her Friday evenings dancing the night away!
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