Best friends Jane and Lexi—AKA the “Creep Sisters”—are the resident weirdos of their high school. Lexi, who dresses like “the Grim Reaper’s hot little sister” and makes avant-garde short films featuring images of decomposition and death, is easily the more outwardly strange. It’s Jane, though, who catches the majority of flak from their classmates. After all, she’s the one with a nail in her brain and an apparent death wish:
It started with my difficult birth. Mom nearly died having me. When they finally dragged me out into the world I was limp and lifeless, born without a pulse. They had to shock my tiny heart into beating.
Born dead. That set the mood for everything later.
So far I’ve survived poisoning, electrocution, a close encounter with a train and now this nail.
The nail, the poisoning and the electrocution? All self-inflicted. But despite the not-so-secret suspicions of her parents, her doctors and her peers, Jane’s not suicidal.
Bookshelves of Doom weighs in on Elizabeth George's 'The Edge of Nowhere.'
No, her shadow is trying to kill her.
With Beyond: A Ghost Story, Graham McNamee’s proved yet again that he’s at the top of the heap when it comes to page-turning thrillers for the reluctant reader set. Jane’s breathless narration—she uses a lot of sentence fragments—assures that readers will barrel through the 49 super-short chapters in record time. As if her voice isn’t enough, there’s also loads of action (sleepwalking to the edge of a cliff!), atmosphere (rain, and lots of it!) and danger (in addition to the murderous shadow, a serial killer!).
While there’s some iffy dialogue (“You know what will happen to me if I get hot and heavy with him”), there’s not much in the way of emotional nuance. It’s not likely to be up for any of the big book awards, but I’d be perfectly confident in handing it to any of Lisa McMann’s younger fans.
For those of you looking for a ghost story dressed up in something a little more fancypants (read: literary), may I recommend two titles from last year? First up, Adele Griffin’s Tighter. It’s a contemporary retelling of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw, and like the original, it features a narrator who may not be totally reliable, but is romantic, atmospheric and spooky as all get out. It’s tauter-than-taut, and made me so claustrophobic that I had to open a window.
Secondly, I highly recommend Marianna Baer’s Frost, which isn’t exactly a retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (see New Girl for that), but it bears some striking similarities... Like Tighter, it’s spooktastic. Instead of falling for a guy who’s weirdly obsessed with his dead wife, in Frost, Leena Thompson falls for a guy who’s weirdly obsessed with his (very alive) sister. Psychologically creepy and with a storyline that’s endlessly debatable, Frost was one of my favorite reads last year.
So, what about you? Have any fabulously-written ghost stories to recommend?
Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.