“‘You gotta bring them back the head, Henry, or it won’t count. Good luck.’
Henry Torve sidestepped through a gap in the rusted bars, his teeth clenching at the clatter-clang of the gate. Ever since he’d heard the stories about this place, most of them told by his cousin Emma, he had dreamed of this moment: his leg reaching through the gate, his foot touching down upon the cursed earth, and then… he shivered. Henry wouldn’t let go of the bars, not yet, the others might notice how his hands shook.”
When Henry is dared to go into the cursed Funland theme park, deserted for years since its owner blew up a ride and killed himself in the ghost train ride, and pick up a head from a mannequin from the ghost train he is slightly scared…. However that is nothing compared to the strange things that happen when he gets to the train. A headless man i there to great him and soon Henry flees. Cue a strange mysterious teenage arriving in Milton Lake, Henry being ‘bed bound’ and Emma, his cousin seeing more and more people who can only be described as spirits. Emma soon finds herself making friends with the curious stranger and he shares his knowledge with her… a resident of Milton Lake is using a fabled ghost machine to call back the dead and if they don’t stop whoever it is the town will be overrun with the dead.
This is going to be a strange one to review because whilst I loved parts of it, others I wasn’t so impressed with. The story is fantastic and the characters, well they are awesome, with a lot of twists and turns in the story I was kept hooked but there were some niggles that I just couldn’t ignore.
The story concentrates on Henry for one chapter then moves on to Emma throughout. The two characters are connected through family and friendship but with the strange happenings in each of their lives there are reasons for them not being so close anymore. I liked this part of the story and completely understood why Emma was the way she was. I loved her introduction into the book and thought it made her quite an interesting character. From early on we understand her connection to the unknown and it developed even further as the story went on. There were many layers to this book and I don’t know if all of them were as explored as they could be but I loved both Emma’s and Nick’s.
The characters were very present and I loved that there didn’t seem to be many passive characters other than the ones who tried to make Emma’s life hell… but I didn’t want to get to know them anyway. Emma was quite possibly my favourite as she thought on her feet, she got through everything herself and without needing to be rescued as much as other female characters in books often do. There were a couple of parts when I thought she could have sorted herself out rather than Nick help her out but I liked her attitude towards these parts, and there was no swooning! Nick was a really interesting character and I loved his presence, his background intrigued me and I was so relieved when I discovered the truth about him.
Overall my thoughts on this book are positive as you can see above. However I did have some major issues with this book in that it featured a trope I hate from YA… insta-love. Emma and Nick were close, they brought something out in one another, I saw the connection… I didn’t need them telling each other they loved each other after four days of knowing each other. I also didn’t like something about the end which I can’t really go into because of spoilers, lets just say I didn’t really appreciate the message that it put out about responsibility.
The horror element of the book was pretty damn cool and if you like to be scared you’ll love this book as there are some particularly chilling scenes. The mystery is also brilliant and I didn’t work out the person responsible for the summoning of the spirits until it was revealed which was excellent work n the authors part! I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a couple of characters but I can live with how most things panned out! I don’t want to dislike this book for anything because it is really great and I think it was just personal preference which had me not enjoy a couple of things. I’m certain it will be a great read for many people and it is definitely worth a read!
Haunted was published on 5th September by Oxford University Press. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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