Ciana Stone undeniably possesses the skill to weave a gripping tale that compels our undivided attention, with a villain who both fascinates and repels us, a heroine who simultaneously evokes such sympathy and such awe, and a puzzling mystery that keeps shocking us until the last page.
Isabelle, or Izzi, spent her life fortifying mental barriers to hide from a sadistic serial killer who stalks her relentlessly and has, somehow, evaded the police for years. But Izzi knows she can’t hide forever, and the only way to stop “her monster” is to let him in. She teams up with the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, at the behest of Special Agent in charge Gib Foster, her former lover, working on the numerous cases of the Seven Bridges Killer, each one bringing them, and her, closer to the truth of Isabelle’s past.
One of the things I love about this story is the psyche of the killer. Stone does an exceptional job at letting us see into the mind of a deranged, psychopath, letting us hear his icy cold voice in the lines meant to terrorize Izzi: “Come to me, my love” and “Soon it will be our time.” It’s sinister and dark, but the voice is velvety smooth. It sends a chill up your spine and makes the hairs on your arm stand up, and yet you can’t help but be drawn into his twisted infatuation with torture, murder, and of course, Isabelle.
Our beautiful young heroine is completely awe-inspiring in her fortitude to put an end to her monster’s reign of malignance. She wants him gone, and she’s willing to put herself in harm’s way to do it. What’s even more remarkable about Isabelle is her limitless perception. After her attack, she gained “extra senses” that allow her to “know things without being told.” For instance, when she meets Leo, an agent with the BAU, for the first time, she calls him by his middle name even though she had no way of knowing it. Just another testament to Stone’s skill at creating complex, ingenious characters that we adore.
Another skill Stone demonstrates expertly is her ability to catch readers off guard with surprises and plot twists. Just when you think you know what to expect, Stone throws a curveball, and the reader is left back at square one. Much like the agents are in the story, the reader has to reevaluate all the facts, which helps to align us with the characters, making them relatable. Without giving too much away, the agents uncover details that pose more questions than answers and leave Isabelle grappling for the truth about her attack.
What I think could be worked on just a bit more are the character and setting descriptions. We get a solid description of Isabelle but not until a couple of chapters in, and while it’s not always necessary to give all the details right away, I would have liked more information on her appearance sooner. The same goes for other characters like Gib and Leo. We know they’re attractive, reasonably muscular, and incredibly charming, but we don’t have a clear picture of their physical characteristics like hair and eye color. It’s important to slip those details in close to the first mention of the character so the reader can accurately picture them in their minds. It’s also helpful when there are several characters speaking in one scene, as it helps the reader to keep track of who is speaking without the excessive use of dialogue tags or repeating the names over and over. For example, any one of the times the team is meeting about a case and each character is contributing, there are multiple voices to keep track of. The more detailed the characters are in our minds, the easier they are to remember.
I absolutely adore thrillers and very few compare to Seven Bridges. Ciana Stone’s writing style and her tendency to turn the tables keeps us on the edge of our seats, completely glued to the page.