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Saturday, 19 March 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberley Derting


Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.


Desires of the Dead is Derting's follow-up to her immensely popular debut novel, The Body Finder. Derting presents another mystery, one that is equally as gripping. New characters are also introduced: Megan and Mike, a pair of siblings new to the school, and Sara Priest and Rafe, whose intentions are very hard to decipher at first for both Violet and the reader.

Like The Body Finder, there was plenty of mystery present in Desires of the Dead. The story revolving around the siblings was predictable yet still engrossing. Derting included the thoughts of someone involved in the crime, as she did in The Body Finder, though I didn't feel these were as engrossing or to put it plainly, as creepy as the murderer's passages in The Body Finder.

What I particularly liked was the addition of Sara Priest - I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how that storyline progresses in the next novel. Rafe was also a very intriguing character, though I hope his relationship with Violet never becomes more than platonic.
Jay is a total sweetheart - you grow to love him even more than you did in The Body Finder. Violet was maybe slightly less likeable in this book because she kept going off by herself in the middle of the night without telling anyone. You think she'd know better, considering the events of the last novel. Her friends didn't really make much of an impact, the only one who really stood out being Chelsea, but this was almost a positive thing as it meant there was a bigger focus on Violet's and Jay relationship.

I felt that their relationship was presented in a realistic way. Obviously it had its ups and downs, but these were handled in a believable manner by both characters. Derting effectively captured that sense of a new stage in a relationship with someone you've known for a long time. All the especially romantic scenes were handled delicately - no sleaze here.

Derting's prose was mostly smooth, however there were some places where I felt it was too stilted. It didn't affect how riveted I was, however - I literally could not stop reading it.

All in all, as impressive as its predecessor.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks very much to Headline for providing me with a copy for review!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ominous by Kate Brian


After the shocking revelations made in the Private prequel, The Book of Spells, Noelle and Reed know they are descendants of the original Billings Girls and their legacy includes a mysterious coven of witches. But it's nothing compared to what happens next.
One by one, Billings Girls go missing from campus.
The entire community bands together to find the lost girls, hoping they are still alive. Reed can't believe tragedy has struck Easton again, and she begins to wonder if the Billings Girls are cursed. But when the first body shows up containing a message just for her, she fears her friends are worse than cursed: they're doomed.

Ominous by Kate Brian is the penultimate novel in a series of fourteen - yes, that's right, fourteen. Luckily I'd read most of the others already, courtesy of my school library, so I could vaguely remember the events of the previous books.

Ominous picks up right where Vanished ended - after Reed discovers the supernatural secrets behind the Billings Literary Society. When I read this new development in Vanished, I was very, very skeptical. To suddenly introduce supernatural elements right at the end of the series made it seem as if Brian was trying to integrate magic and ghosts and the like just because of the overwhelming popularity of YA Supernatural novels these days. I highly doubt that it had been planned out from the beginning. Rather, it was a way to strike to birds with one stone - profit from the public's interest in the supernatural, and introduce a spin-off series set in the nineteen century; historical novels are becoming increasingly popular, after all.

Ominous completely changed that opinion, I'm happy to say. The foray into magic seemed like a natural progression. It was a plausible reason for the events of past novels, considering the outlandishness of the situations that Reed has encountered over the course of series. She'd experienced murder a gazillion times anyway, so why not explain that with a supernatural twist? It didn't seem forced at all to me, especially because of Brian's prose, which remained careful and controlled, with the right amount of description to keep the reader interested. I'll be interested to read what Brian has to offer once Private and its various spin-offs end.

The relationships between the characters were fairly realistic. Thankfully, Noelle's personality did not do a completely turnaround once discovering that she and Reed were sisters. Now that would have been hard to believe. I especially liked the relationship between Josh and Reed - it was healthy and strong with both characters trusting each other completely and relying on each other the right amount - that's something you don't see in a lot of YA novels these days, so it was refreshing to read their interactions.

A good, solid addition to the series. Will definitely be picking up the next one.

Thanks very much to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a copy for review!