I received the ARC of ONE HUNDRED CANDLES from the publisher via NetGalley, and purchased my own copy of PAST MIDNIGHT. Please read this for more on my reviewing policy.
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I’m not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I’m usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven’t gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents’ research trip in Charleston—and now I’m being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents’ creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive…
If I have just one kryptonian weakness, it’s ghost hunting shows. From the serious and scientific (Ghost Hunters) to the obnoxious and sensationalist (Ghost Adventures)—I love ‘em all. Fortunately, Charlotte Silver’s parents are in the former camp, working hard to disprove every paranormal claim they encounter. Countering Agent Mulder’s motto, their slogan, painted on the side of their equipment van, is DOUBT.
As the younger and self-described plainer daughter of these famed ghost debunkers, Charlotte is used to lurking behind the scenes. She holds up boom mics while her glamorous older sister helps with investigations, and drifts from school to school like a spectre, unable to to leave her mark anywhere—quite unlike the residual energies her parents have devoted their life to studying.
It’s Charlotte’s pragmatism and straightforwardness that attracts us to her story, just as it draws in the ghosts of a broken family in PAST MIDNIGHT. She’s a modest heroine: she makes friends easily enough, but endures the same social missteps of any high schooler, sometimes asking questions that pry too much, or keeping the wrong secrets, or not knowing how to handle the emotional bullies. I love reading Charlotte’s stories because she stays real, no matter how creepy the ghosts, or how daunting the demons in ONE HUNDRED CANDLES.
Purnhagen’s writing style is sparse, though there are gems like this: “When I was thirteen, we lived in a house where you could hear violin music drifting up like smoke from an empty basement…” My favorite aspect of her writing is how well she weaves in foreshadowing. The hints and clues of what’s to come are vague enough to build up subtle tension, instead of broadcasting twists and turns ahead. As a storyteller, she makes us really believe in her characters’ motivations. Everyone’s personality is so clear that even when they do something surprising, it isn’t unbelievable.
ONE HUNDRED CANDLES builds off the storyline in PAST MIDNIGHT directly, and I wouldn’t recommend reading them out of order. The paranormal entities of ONE HUNDRED CANDLES are far creepier and threatening, but PAST MIDNIGHT’s secondary plot is stronger—Charlotte’s new friend, Avery, struggles with her boyfriend’s death, and tries to place blame on herself and others.
The Charlotte Silver series hunts for answers—normal and paranormal alike. If you’re a fan of believable YA paranormal, or have ever struggled to feel normal in an abnormal world, you and Charlotte will get along just fine. ONE HUNDRED CANDLES is on bookshelves tomorrow, February 22nd. And visit Mara Purnhagen’s official website!
Win a copy of the first book in the Charlotte Silver series, PAST MIDNIGHT! Just post a comment on this review, telling me your favorite ghost story, book, TV show, or movie. Entries close Sunday, 6th March, at 11:59pm EST.