For years, ever since right before her parents’ death, Emerson has seen ghosts. She can interact with them, but no one else sees them and they pop if she touches them. Desperate to help, her much-older brother/guardian Thomas sends her to one last specialist: the young, mysterious, and (surprise) devastatingly sexy Michael Weaver.
Man. I don’t remember the last time I have been this disappointed in a book. The first half is awesome. The small Southern town feels cozy, humid, and slightly creepy, like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Thomas is an entirely believable older brother, whom Emerson torments but also trusts with her secrets. Emerson herself is no Bella; she has useful skills and sass. She gets pissed when Michael plays the obnoxious “I can’t tell you yet, for your own good” game and wears her bunny slippers for a late-night rendezvous, “just to be cheeky.”
And then she just… stops. Somewhere halfway through, she (and her brother and sister-in-law, for that matter) drink the Michael Kool-Aid and start believing everything he says without independent verification. Do a really dangerous, crazy thing because these people you’ve just met say it’s important? Sure, okay! I kept waiting for him to have secret powers of hypnosis or something, but nope. Their connection is just electric (as in, there are literal sparks) and so of course she trusts him.
If you’re into paranormal romances, this might not bother you. It seems to be a convention of the genre. There’s even the manufactured temptation of the hot best friend, because you need a love triangle. The book is well-written, and if this is your thing, it’s at least original for the paranormal genre. I could only have been so let down because I was so sucked in at the beginning; I’ll definitely be waiting to see what McEntire does next. I might even read the (sigh, of course there’s a) sequel.
Cover: I actually love this, because it’s so different from so much of what I’ve seen. It is not a Photoshopped image of a girl in a floaty dress looking poutily at the camera. It’s a painting, for starters, and a slightly stylized one at that. It feels a little “Norton’s Guide to Modern Feminist Literature” to me, for some reason — like it’s more Ladies’ Literary than YA — but I’m cool with that.
ARC generously provided by the Brookline Public Library Shelf Respect YA book club.
(The end, by the way, is a total cop-out on just about every level. The grand plan doesn’t really work, from a science fiction standpoint. And the resolution feels like a Murder, She Wrote episode, where the least likely villain waves a gun around and explains everything in detail to the protagonists. But again, if you’re in it for the romance, this won’t bother you, because it is all very romantic. And Michael is a cutie.)