Troubled teen Emerson Cole returns to her Southern hometown and old “haunts” in this genre-blending story.
Despite her cushy new life with her older brother Thomas and his wife Dru, Em can’t overcome her dark past; she started seeing ghosts at 13, shortly before her parents’ tragic accident. Caught talking to seemingly empty space too often, Em is verbally and physically defensive, unable to completely confide in Thomas, Dru or her best friend Lily. When Thomas hires handsome college-aged Michael Weaver (a consultant from the mysterious Hourglass institute) to help Em with her “hallucinations,” predictably tempestuous romance and unexpected adventure ensue. After meeting an X-Men–esque group of former Hourglass students—and the dangerous but sexy Kaleb Ballard, Michael’s rival for her affections—Em learns that she’s not crazy but gifted, and that she might be able to change the past as well as see it. Em is an entertainingly cheeky narrator and appealingly resilient heroine; when she meets Michael’s friends, she wryly comments, “Team Freak. Wonder if we could get jerseys.” First-time author McEntire deftly juggles plot, characters and dialogue; her portrait of grief is particularly poignant.
The ambitious combination of paranormal romance and sci-fi action leads to some pacing problems but also makes for a refreshing read. (Fiction. 12 & up)