Author: J.A. Templeton
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Description/Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Riley Williams has been able to see ghosts since the car crash that took her mother’s life and shattered her family. Guilt-ridden over the belief that she’s somehow responsible for her mom’s death, Riley is desperate to see her mother’s elusive spirit to gain her forgiveness.
When her father moves the family to Scotland so they can all start over, Riley believes her life couldn’t get worse––that is until the ghost of nineteen-year-old Ian MacKinnon catches her purposely cutting herself. An uneasy truce quickly turns into friendship, and soon Riley’s falling hard for Ian.
Riley believes her gift could help Ian end the curse that has kept him tied to the land for centuries, but that would mean letting him go forever and she’s not sure she is strong enough to do that. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough, the spirit of the woman who killed Ian returns and she’ll stop at nothing to keep Riley from helping Ian find eternal peace.
WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW
Wow, I don’t know what to say about this book. As usual, I went on a buying-spree on Amazon in the free books category and somewhere in the mess of 300 books, this made it’s way onto my kindle. That being said, like most of the books that grace my Kindle, I had no idea what this was about until I read it. I actually like that fact most of the time because it means the synopsis of the book isn’t going to sway me one way or the other. I go into a book with no preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to be about.
That being said: I loved this book! Reading through the reviews on Goodreads after I’d finished this book I came across what seems to be a very wide gap in the opinions on this book. Either people loved it, or they hated it, and I think part of that comes from the way they went into the book. It seems a lot of people were under the misconception that this was going to be a creepy horror story, and that’s not what it is. It’s a paranormal romance – no doubt about it. So if you went into this thinking you were in for a thrill, you’d be rather disappointed to find some teen making out with a ghost. This is one of the reasons I’m glad I don’t read synopsis or genre titles before I pick up a book.
This story was about a girl named Riley, and her small family. They move from Portland, Oregon to Scotland to get away from some troubles in their lives. Not too long ago, both Riley and her brother Shane got involved with some less-than-desirable friends, and as a consequence, Riley spiraled into a life of booze, drugs, and self-harm. Unfortunately, her lifestyle leads her into a late-night car crash in which her mother dies.
After the accident, Riley is disconcerted to learn that she can now see ghosts. The mentioning of which leads her father and a team of doctors to believe that she’s gone crazy. In a bold move to save his family, her father moves their family to Scotland – where our story begins.
As the story progresses, Riley becomes friends with a ghost boy named Ian who died in the castle next door to the family’s dilapidated Inn. Soon, Riley begins to learn the story of Ian and how he was murdered, and vows to help him cross over (even though they are quickly falling in love with one another). Enter Laira. Laira is a vindictive ghost of a servant who poisoned Ian and cursed him to never pass on from these lands. She’s creepy, mean, obsessive, and really hates Riley’s guts.
Honestly, I thought the story was very well written. It was clear, engaging, and full of endearing and entertaining moments between Riley, her live friends, her brother, and Ian. It was fun to watch Riley’s character slowly start to separate herself from her guilt over her mother’s death and the self-harm she’d come to depend upon as her relationships with the people around her grew stronger and more stable.
The characters were full of depth, and I particularly liked Riley, Ian, Shane, and Laira. The whole situation between Ian and Laira was tragic on both sides, and though I felt the use of black magic was a little cliche, it didn’t detract from my view of Laira as a complex figure. There were a few bits of this story that were left unexplained, but seeing as this is just the first book in a series, I hope I can reasonably assume that some of these things (that didn’t bother me all that much) will be explained down the line.
Overall it was a quick read (I was so engaged I got through the whole thing in just a handful of hours), and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys ghost stories or paranormal romances. Go grab it while it’s still free on Amazon!