The Da Vinci Code meets Freaky Friday in this chick-lit mystery.
It posits that during the Roman Empire, Plotinus, a real philosopher who’s fictionalized in this thriller, discovered a ritualistic way to trade souls with other humans. Two thousand years later, the Oculus Society, a secret society based on Plotinus’ practices and made up of wealthy socialites, leads the town of Delphi, Calif. When Gretchen’s mother, the president of the Oculus Society, turns up dead, the teen sets out to find her mother’s killer. After a slow start, the pacing quickens and remains heightened as Gretchen and her best friend, Jessica (also with ties to the Oculus Society), trade souls to gather evidence in the stalled murder investigation. They create more tension when they invite Ariel, a one-time foe who’s still not completely eliminated from the suspect list, to join in their hunt and soul switching. The novel’s third-person narration allows each girl to see the crime and clues from a different perspective and seemingly stereotyped characters to take shape. Flashbacks to Plotinus’ soul switching, its disastrous results and how his ability came to be handed down to women only provide an engaging back story and helpful clues to solving the murder mystery.
The focus on friendship will appeal to chick-lit fans, while those tired of vampires, fallen angels and the like will appreciate the fresh take on the paranormal. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)