Finally, I managed to finish a book – I’ve gone from attempting to rattle one off in a week to taking well over a month to complete a teen fiction. I blame Battlestar Galactica, who knew it would be so addictive as to watch a minimum of four episodes a night?!
The book hadn’t really any cause in this, it was a decent enough read which for the most part I enjoyed. Rhiannon Lassiter has attempted to join the swathe of modern gothic currently adorning bedroom shelves country wide, but instead of dropping into vampiric teenage melancholy, she aimed for something much more true to the genre – ghosts and murder. I was quite excited to start this book and I as I wrote some time ago, the beginning has all the skin creeping dark mystery that I adore from a good read.
There are some truly atmospheric moments when the sinister senses are set a-tingling, but sadly they slip away into something a little more mundane. Eva Chance, the black sheep of the illustrious Chance family, has set on a crusade to solve her own murder. On her journey she comes across dangerous and terrible spirits, trapped within the Chance estate as well as discovering the truth to her own mother’s demise. There is also the potential for one of the most menacing spirits to be written. I say potential, because the fear factor of The Witch, hinted at in the beginning, never quite comes to fruition. I appreciate that the most terrifying moments of book and film are those which conjure the imagination into a whirlwind of suspense, but I personally feel there is a little too much hinting and not enough actual presence. The Witch could have accomplished some truly terrific things but just as I felt we were going to see the true malevolence of her power the book changed tack.
The narrative suddenly stopped being the ghostly murder investigation I hoped it would be and became a crime drama like so many things already in existence. The police became involved and put a dullness to the spark that was just starting to ignite. Their time within the story was limited but the only contribution I could see to this intrusion was to make the tale disjointed and a little confused. For a while I couldn’t tell what it was trying to be – gothic fiction or crime? The marrying of the two in this way just didn’t seem to work – particularly as when the Ghost element returned, the real-life police element dropped away entirely, leaving me to wonder what purpose it had actually held. And as for the Witch’s potential, that also seemed a little confused. Her demise was not at all what I expected as there was never any real confrontation; to me, a little disappointing.
Another true-to-the-genre element which I applaud Miss Lassiter for attempting was the gothic romance; a young, handsome teenage boy with everything going for him falls in love with a ghost. All very Wuthering Heights in its attempt but again, as with the battle against the ghosts, it felt a little thin and emotionless. I never quite understood this connection or why/how it was important. I understand you have to provide our heroes with a cause to fight, but Kyle Stratton’s hormonal response to seeing a ghost was rather peculiar – I still don’t know what it was he was attracted to after only briefly speaking to her before hand. I would have felt the story line much more realistic had they played up to the guilt that he and his sister Kyra felt for bullying Eva at school.
Regardless of these thoughts, who am I to judge? Rhiannon Lassiter is already rather successful having several books to her name. She does write beautifully, creating atmosphere and landscapes which capture the mind completely. There are one or two truly stunning moments as she crafts the tale, the fight in a the Solar (a room which cannot be cleaned by living hands) and the Stalker’s chase in particular. There is also a heavy hint of gruesome on some occasions such as the ghostly being of another Chance relation re-enacting her own murder on a never ending cycle – this in itself was certainly harrowing and tragic.
In a nutshell, it is a decent book with brilliantly written aspects but with a tale which misses its target a little. I cannot for one say I could do any better, and of course it is to be remembered this book is for teens and not adults so perhaps I am being a little harsh. A good attempt at the modern gothic, but maybe with too many elements which detract from what should have been a truly terrifying ghost story.
My next read is: The Card Turner by Louis Sachar.