The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.
Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.
First Look: ***** I won this in another Inkpop Weekly Challenge (you have no idea how much I love those things). The cover is very generic, but the premise looked interesting enough.
Setting: ***** Eh. The house was supposedly haunted, but it never really was described in detail. I couldn't picture it. Other than the house, there was nothing to make it stand out. I don't understand; why do all these MCs have problems with small towns? What's wrong with them? I live in a smallish town, and we're perfectly normal people and we don't live in the Old West or something.
Characters: ***** They were actually realistic. Yeah, I know, I'm bad...I went into this assuming that they'd be just so-so. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of Tansy's feelings felt real, and I really got to like her when I was near the end. Tate and Henry were so refreshing as love interests--they weren't too perfect. They had flaws, too. I think the author could've delved even more into Henry's personality, though; I'm still left with questions about him. Why was he so...weird? Why did he hurt himself? And who doesn't want a friend like Bethyl Ann?
Plot: ***** Again, another pleasant surprise. Once I got past the beginning, that is. What, can you buy YA paranormal beginnings real cheap at the dollar store or something? Honestly, most of these first few chapters are utterly interchangeable with any other paranormal book's first few chapters. Girl moves unwillingly to tiny nowheresville town, resolves herself to hate it, goes to new school, bla bla bla. Give us something more interesting, please, authors! After that part, I finally started getting into the story. The mystery was nicely played out, and I couldn't guess what was coming.
Uniqueness: ***** It would've been four stars, except for the overly clichéd beginning. Other than that, it was mostly unique.
Writing: ***** There was nothing that outright bothered me. I have a few minor nitpicks here and there, but nothing really worth going into detail over. I loved, loved, loved the poetry! I wish we could've seen more of it.
Likes: Nothing that hasn't been mentioned above.
Not-so-great: I wanted to learn more about Henry, but we never did. And it didn't give off the creepy vibe that a story involving ghosts should. Other than that, again, nothing that hasn't been mentioned above.
Total Score: ***** This was actually a pretty good read! I can't say I outright loved it, but I definitely enjoyed it. I don't think I've ever read this much of a ghost story before; maybe I should get more into the genre. It's nice to read a real paranormal book that isn't a ripoff of Twilight*; it was fresh, with a concept that hasn't been done over and over and over. The characters were interesting and realistic. I liked how it combined a past story with the present one. I'd recommend it to people who like actual paranormal, mystery lovers, or people who just plain like a decent ghost story.
*Which I don't understand anyway. Why write a ripoff of a book that is only a two-star read to start with?