The Haunting of Secrets by Shelley Pickens is really a YA novel, but I decided to give it a read because the premise – a high school girl who sees and feels all the memories of anyone she touches –seemed rather intriguing. Also, I’ve found a lot of other YA books very enjoyable (think the Harry Potter series, the new volumes of which I anticipated as much as my daughter).
This book indeed held my interest, and I had a hard time putting it down – but looked forward to picking it up again, like a treat. The author has teenagers pegged: their brattiness and snide senses of humor, their brutal honesty, and of course their bullying. There were also rare kindnesses, providing sweet spots in the narrative. The action moved briskly and the author provided a few tantalizing hints of whom the villain might be.
Sixteen year old Aimee protects herself from touch by dressing as a Goth in long black pants, long sleeve black shirts and black gloves. During her escape from the high school’s cafeteria following the explosion of a bomb in the room, her clothes are torn and she inadvertently makes skin contact with another student. This student is a butcher of young girls and the memories that flood Aimee’s mind are devastating. Worse, she has no idea who this boy is. Worse yet, he knows that she knows.
Aimee is faced with a conundrum: how can she find this person and how can she identify his victims without revisiting his terrifying memories. She is helped in her search by her one friend, Dejana, who is willing to overlook Aimee’s idiosyncrasies and who brings in another student to help in the search. During this time, Aimee is bewildered, flattered and ultimately warms to the attention paid her by Logan, a handsome young jock who wants to protect her from her demons and the killer who begins to stalk her. The author does a great job portraying a first love with its angst and tremulousness.
If there is anything of a drawback to this book, it is the fact that there was a great deal of narrative, particularly at the beginning. In other words, a lot of telling instead of showing, and there were areas where this repeated later in the book. The dialog is great, and I would have liked to see more of it as a way of telling the story.
That being said, this book was really enjoyable and the ending had a kicker of a twist. It kept me on the edge of my seat and since it is obvious from the ending there will be a sequel, I am looking forward to reading it!
From her blog site (shelleypickens.wordpress.com), I learned that Shelley is in love with anything on the dark side of paranormal. She is a former high school Spanish teacher who decided to take what she had learned about teenagers in the classroom and apply it to her writing. She’s done a great job in The Haunting of Secrets, which is her debut novel.
This review will also be published by Rosie Amber; I am a member of her book review team.