On her 10th birthday, the family curse came for Taylor Oh, and it came for her via a form that would have scarred pretty much anyone for life: the ghost of a murdered clown.

Seriously, I don’t know if I could have come back from that.

Now, she’s lived with the curse for five years. She knows that she—like her mother and many generations before—is doomed to either insanity or an early death, but she doesn’t have to like it, or to be resigned to it. She tries to see the murdered dead before they reach her, tries to prevent them from touching her, from passing on their Marks…but the dead are tenacious and untiring, and so her life has become a never-ending cycle of tracking down killers in order to transfer the Marks to the guilty. What choice does she have? If the Darkness comes while she’s still wearing the Mark, it’ll take her instead.

Taylor is a tough girl, smart and honorable, but she’s drowning under the pressure. She’s a regular target of the bullies at school, she’s failing her classes, her best friend is starting to tired of her secrecy, her father thinks she’s mentally ill and her mother—the one person who knew what it was like to bear the curse—is dead.

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Who would have guessed that the death of one of her classmates—who happens to be one of her chief tormentors—would change all of that?

I have a soft spot for heroines who not only see ghosts, but are annoyed that they see ghosts*, so Bryony Pearce’s Weight of Souls was a must-read for me.

It took a little while—much of the dialogue in the first third reads flat, the bullies are especially two-dimensional, and the segues between Taylor’s present-day narration and her memories are inorganic and repetitive (she does a lot of closing her eyes and remembering)—but eventually, Pearce and Taylor won me over: Overall, it’s a solid romantic paranormal mystery, and I got emotionally invested almost despite myself.

A big part of the reason was this: Taylor and the ghost? They do not trust each other, do not like each other, do not even empathize with each other…at first. It takes time, and seeing them start to respect each other, to become friends, and ONLY THEN [SPOILER**] get smoochy makes the inevitable romance all the more satisfying. Some of the plotting will require strong Suspension of Disbelief muscles—the generations-old Truth or Dare Society especially—but those self-same elements are what make me think this will be a good pick for fans of Lisa McMann and of Nerve.

Another element that will be a draw? ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CURSE FTW. With a bonus of roaming around in Nefertiti’s tomb, even! Fun stuff, and I am fully planning on reading the next installment.


*My favorites? Meg Cabot’s Suze Simon and Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore.

**But really, who are we kidding? As if it would go any other way!

If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.