This book by Russ Thompson is well written and started off with a strong vibe. The motley crew of characters are surprisingly amazing. I look forward to reading more about Lee Ann and her powers and the courageous acts she and her friends could be facing in their next adventures. Two thumbs up! 

Destiny Reid

The Loop Breaker is a coming of age story filled with heartache, and the impending fear of something that’s bigger than what we can see. Lee Ann, the main character of the story is filled with heartbreak and a sense of doom ever since her mother died. Not really being able to let go of that tragedy, Lee Ann doesn’t really know who to turn to. But it is also through that immense sadness that something extraordinary happens to her.

The Loop Breaker is the first book that I’ve read by author, Russ Thompson. While the beginning was rather slow, the story soon picks up on the premise of the story – hauntings in the countryside where she lives with her father and stepmom after her mother’s death. There, in the creepy forest is an old tale of death and ghosts. Lee Ann isn’t one to believe in such things but when she starts to have visions of people fleeing for their lives and being gunned down by apparitions, she wonders why she was the only to see these incidents. As the story starts to unfold, it is revealed to be something even more sinister than just the basic folklore told in that county. Someone is calling to Lee Ann, whether it is good or evil remains to be seen.

The main character, Lee Ann is still a teenager and somewhat lost after the death of her mother. However, she makes some new friends who surreptitiously help her in her quest to solve these “hauntings” until they find the real truth to the folklore. But it is Lee Ann who could be the only one to resolve these hauntings. What I liked about Lee Ann’s character was that while she was still quite young, she had sort of an old soul. Perhaps that was part of the reason she was able to reach through the veil, so to speak. Her grief and unrest brought out something deep within her and the gift to communicate with the dead was unexpected. But she had guidance from both her mother and a psychic and in turn, learned that she had a power within.

Russ Thompson’s ability to bring out true sadness in the main character’s story was nice to read. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but this story can help open your eyes to spirits and the unknown. It is wonderfully written to show that through love and acceptance of oneself, you can truly overcome your greatest fears. The supporting characters were interesting, in particular the stepmom who – almost like the typical stepmom – disliked her stepdaughter and the disruption to her own quiet life. But she too overcame her own doubts and prejudices to embrace her new stepdaughter in the end.

Well done and I truly enjoyed reading this new story. I would recommend it to ages sixteen and above as there are some pretty strong descriptions of the deaths that occurred. I give this a solid 4 stars due to some repetitive parts and a slow beginning but overall it was an enjoyable read.

Thank you to Russ Thompson and Winterwolf Press for the ARC.

SUZAN C.

The Loop Breaker

A Beacon and the Darkness

By Russ Thompson

Lee Ann Daniels is a teenager mourning the recent death of her mother, Kim. As she readies herself for a move to the country with her father, Lee Ann feels the depth of her loss. She receives what appears to be a message from her mother telling her she does not have to hold on. The message is puzzling because she doesn’t know if she dreamed it or if it was real. Her father, Charles comes to pick her up and Lee Ann texts goodbye to her friend, Hanna as she prepares for the move to the small town of Laverne, a town she was born in, but never really knew.

            Charles brings his daughter back to property he’s acquired. Lee Ann feels overwhelmed by the loss of her mother and culture shock. She explores the creek behind the house and thinks she hears a peculiar noise on the wind, which she dismisses. Charles informs her that there is a wildlife preserve next door. Lee Ann begins to sketch the creek. Shirley, Charles’s wife comes home and she and Lee Ann have a quick conversation that falls flat. Shirley asks Charles why she can’t connect with Lee Ann. Charles tells her to show more interest in what Lee Ann is interested in.

            Lee Ann’s culture shock continues during her first day at Pearson County High School. The locals treat her like a freak, commenting on her choice of dress. She judges them for all looking and acting the same. Lee Ann meets Katrina, a person with similar style and David, a tall, shy boy who expresses interest in activities Lee Ann’s interested in such as hiking. For the first time, Lee Ann has an encounter with the school bullies, Jenn and Lisa who call Katrina names such as ‘fatty’. During lunch, Lee Ann and Katrina have an encounter with Mary Hartford, the leader of the group of girls. Lee Ann stands up to Mary when she threatens them, impressing Katrina.

            One night when Lee Ann is sketching, she hears a noise that sounds like a human voice. She follows it to the wildlife preserve next door, crests a ridge and enters a hollow. The sound becomes clearer and utters the words, ‘Help me!’ scaring Lee Ann. She quickly makes her way back to the house and tells her father what she’s heard. Charles, who doesn’t seem to have heard it, says it could be a symptom of Lee Ann’s grief, which she frowns at. The next day at school, Lee Ann tells Katrina what she’s heard and David comes up and tells them about the legend of Thief’s Hollow. He tells them there was a colony of people living there that suddenly vanished. David goes on to tell them that people have been known to see and hear voices there. Mary comes up to Katrina and Lee Ann in the hallway, again calling Katrina, ‘fatty’. Katrina asks Mary to take it back, but Mary pushes her to the ground. Lee Ann asks Mary to take back what she’s said and done, and Mary refuses. Lee Ann pushes Mary up against the locker just as assistant principal Mrs. Lamkins comes walking down the hallway. Mrs. Lamkins tells Lee Ann to meet her in the office. Lee Ann explains what really happened, prompting Mrs. Lamkins to call Mary into the office; Mary denies ever pushing Katrina. Mrs. Lamkins believes Mary and lets her go and suspends Lee Ann.

            Lee Ann is outraged and takes her time walking home because she knows she’s going to be reprimanded. When she arrives, her father scolds her. She defends herself reminding Charles that her mother told her to stand up for one’s loved ones and points out how Katrina was out-numbered. Charles grounds Lee Ann for fighting despite her perspective. She goes to her room and slips into a dream. In the dream she can hear the voice of the woman she previously heard calling for help and the sound of gunshots. Lee Ann follows the voice and goes over two hills and into a second hollow. Once there, she sees two buildings, a house and a barn. She notices that someone is injured on the ground. She rolls the person over and sees a wound on

Available in ebook and paperback October 31, 2020

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