Sliding Beneath the Surface (The St. Augustine Trilogy #1)
by Doug Dillon
Summary: A new resident of America’s oldest and most haunted city, St. Augustine, Florida, fifteen-year-old Jeff Golden suddenly finds himself up to his eyeballs in frightening paranormal experiences. At the end of his rope in trying to figure out what is happening to him, Jeff decides to rely on his friend Carla Rodriguez, and Lobo, an old Native American shaman, for help.
Despite this guidance, things get even worse. Jeff’s spine tingling encounters increase in number and intensity at an alarming rate, scaring him even more. Eventually, he makes the startling discovery that unresolved circumstances involving a bloody event directly out of Florida’s distant past threatens his sanity and possibly his life.
Finally, overwhelmed by forces he cannot understand or control, Jeff’s world shifts from frightening to downright terrifying. In desperation, and on Lobo’s advice, he leaps headlong into the unknown in order to save himself. What Jeff discovers though is that he has entered a level of reality he is completely unprepared to handle while unwittingly dragging Carla with him.
Like all the books in THE ST. AUGUSTINE TRILOGY, the premise for Sliding Beneath the Surface is simply this: You create your own reality.
Source: I won a signed paperback copy of this book from the author in a giveaway.
Sliding Beneath the Surface was a well written story about 15 year old, Jeff Golden. The story takes place within a 24 hour period as Jeff’s friend Carla takes him to visit a Native American man to help with some of his strange experiences. Jeff was experiencing paranormal phenomena that affected his dreams and was causing him headaches. The Native American, Lobo, though tough and firm, helped Jeff open his mind to the paranormal in order to understand and solve his problem.
Sliding Beneath the Surface took place in the city of St. Augustine and was rich with history. The contact Jeff experienced was related to a historical battle and Carla’s knowledge of history was helpful to Jeff, along with her own connections to the people in the battle. I loved the bits of history intertwined within the story.
I liked Jeff’s character. He was the kind of kid who got himself into trouble, had an attitude along with an overall distrust of adults, and yet he tended to be a good friend. I thought his character was well rounded and reflected what real teenagers can be like quite well in this aspect. He was a great narrator because his voice really inserted itself into the story, but he was able observant and skeptical. I also liked Carla because she wasn’t afraid to be smart and outspoken. Lobo fit into a stereotypical Native American shaman persona, but I loved how he was so knowledgeable and he didn’t take any excused from Jeff or Carla. He was set in his ways, but I felt like he offered valuable help and life lessons.
The book followed Jeff’s 24 hour journey into understanding what was happening to him from a paranormal aspect. I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but it was interesting, detailed, and full of rich history. Because Jeff was a skeptical kid, his journey was of al sorts, spiritual, mental, and physical. Through understanding and opening his mind to extra possibilities, lots of other helpful lessons in life were learned. I loved the lessons about life in the book and I thought they were the kinds of things troubled kids should learn. This was one of my favorite aspects about the story, aside from the historical parts.
A story this well written, detailed, and historical with a wonderful narrator should have gained a 4 or 5 star rating from me and I feel as if I possibly should have given it one of those. However, paranormal experiences (like the kind you see on reality television) aren’t really my thing. I love magic and spirits and the possibility of otherworldliness in novels and I was expecting a story in which magic and spirits are present. I suppose it was a bit too paranormal-reality-tv-ish for me in some ways- where I’m supposed to believe that things like this are happening all the time and the characters are only opening their minds, instead of a setting in which magic is a part of reality and there’s a story or reason or something. This is probably my own personal bias talking, but nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that way and that’s ultimately why I rated it the way I did.
Overall, I enjoyed Sliding Beneath the Surface and I would recommend it to others. I loved the overall themes about life and thought it was a wonderful coming of age adventure.
Labels: Middle Grade, Review, YA