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Heroes Are My Weakness


Heroes Are My Weakness

The words “realistically quirky” come to mind for Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s new novel, HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS --- and I mean that in a good way. Anytime you read a book that has puppets as among the main characters, you might assume that the storyline is heading downhill, but not so here. These wooden caricatures interact as alter egos, which add depth to the polished writing and tart humor of the narrative. This is quite a load to carry for some inanimate objects, but it’s pulled off seamlessly when Phillips engages realistic elements that supplement a tale endowed with mystery.

The setting pays homage to New England. As the residents of Peregrine Island interact, it is apparent that there is a camaraderie known only to others in similar communities in the dead of winter. Couple this background with Gothic undertones, and a stage is opened up that encompasses witty dialogue, all within a plot that details an emotional depth, blending texture and sustenance seamlessly --- components essential to this genre. By combining a setting (isolated island off the coast of Maine) within a sub-setting (sinister house by the sea), and adding two essential characters (a man and a woman) with a mind-bending plot, you have the ingredients for a classic romance novel.

"HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS is a winning novel, written with humor, romance and mystery. Susan Elizabeth Phillips delivers a morally inclusive tale with a delightful subtlety."

It’s sure going to be a long, hot winter in this tiny seaside town, since all the details have been set in place. A reclusive writer provides the mystery for the story with his macabre imagination for creating chilling horror novels. Then there is a down-on-her-luck actress who stages kids’ puppet shows as her only means of support. Throw in a thought-provoking plot --- he knows numerous methods to incite killers, she knows many ways to incite laughs --- and, voila, you have a captivating tale.

Unfortunately, the laughs don’t last long when the plot thickens. As teenagers spending time together on the island, he terrified her. Now, trapped together many years later, she wonders if he is still that “mean boy” she remembers or if he has changed. She wants to believe he has, but realistically she is not convinced.

When Annie arrives on Peregrine Island in the middle of a snowstorm and almost broke, she is immediately reminded of why she doesn’t want to be there. But she has to be, at least for the next two months. Not ready to give up on things quite yet, she returns to her mother’s home --- Moonraker Cottage, where she spent many happy summers with her family --- to settle the estate. Along with her puppets --- her means of making a living --- Annie is forced to remain in the cottage for two months, an agreement made with the owner of Harp House and her nemesis. If this doesn’t happen, she will have to give up ownership of her mother’s property. Fortunately, for Annie, her puppets --- sensible Dilly, spunky Scamp and bad boy Leo --- infuse her with a little bit of courage since this is all she has left.

Quickly realizing how ill-prepared she is for what she encounters on the island, Annie is going to need a lot more than courage to survive. The man who lives in Harper House --- the mysterious mansion above the hill from her house --- betrayed her when she was a teenager, and she can never forgive him. Or can she? With the help of a widow, a mute little girl and the townspeople --- some of whom don’t know how to mind their own business --- Annie might be able to learn to trust again.

HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS is a winning novel, written with humor, romance and mystery. Susan Elizabeth Phillips delivers a morally inclusive tale with a delightful subtlety. “Sometimes…you've got to be hurt before you can move on” is a quote that seems to aptly apply to the moral of this story.

Reviewed by Donna Smallwood on September 12, 2014

Heroes Are My Weakness
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

  • Publication Date: August 26, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062106074
  • ISBN-13: 9780062106070