My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Solid YA mystery with paranormal elements. I’m usually fond of ghost stories and I found something to like not only in Jade’s respective journey, but also in the unfolding murder mystery that kept the ball rolling right up to the very end. There are some familiar YA elements in this, but somehow I thought they wove themselves pretty well in this when it was all said and done. I’d probably give this a solid 3.5 stars.
Before I say anything else going into this review, you guys should know that I love ghost stories. It’s one of my favorite subsections of paranormal (If it weren’t enough that I’m a fan of “Ghostbusters”, reading YA books like “Wait Til Helen Comes” and “Time Windows”, among others. So it was a given I’d come across Kim Harrington’s “The Dead and the Buried”. It’s my first read from her.
I’m really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I think there are parts of it that are formulaic with respect to juggling affections and some side eye glance moments. However, the mystery in this is rather solid, and the author does a great job balancing the stakes. The story toggles between Jade, a “new girl” moving into town with her family – father, stepmother and little brother. Jade especially has a great relationship with her little brother Colby, though a rather tense relation with her stepmother.
Jade has a very interesting affinity towards gemstones. I thought that was a nice touch in the narrative for what they represented and the character’s passion for them. They come in handy when Jade faces off against – well – a ghost.
The ghost isn’t just any run of the mill haunting, but rather the spirit of a girl who used to attend Jade’s school. It’s interesting to note that the ghost used to be the ruler of the school, a subsequent mean girl who was killed. When said ghost realizes Jade can help her, she will stop at nothing to get Jade to comply in helping her find the killer. Even if that means she has to manipulate Jade’s family to do it.
Harrington does a great job of having Jade pick up what pieces she can in the overarching mystery, while at the same time navigating some rough relationships in order to discover the truth. I definitely enjoyed the writing here, and found it stronger not just in the prose, but also in the flow compared to some novels of its type I’ve read in recent sittings. It kept me guessing throughout the narrative up until the end, and there were some points in this that were downright creepy in an awesome way. It certainly makes me want to check into more of Harrington’s works in the future, and I would definitely recommend this for those who like YA ghost stories with a helping of creepy and an overall decent mystery.
Overall score: 3.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Scholastic.