PORTRAITS OF CELINA is a layered story: there's a ghost out for revenge, an unsolved mystery of the past, and a family dealing with heartbreaking grief. All of these elements blend seamlessly together into a story about a girl determined to keep her family together while also facing her own struggle to move on with her life.
My favorite character was unexpectedly the ghost herself, Celina O'Malley. I loved the way that the author made her seem one way through the observations and memories of other characters and then slowly revealed who Celina actually was through her interactions with Bayley. Celina is a complex and unlikeable character who had something horrific and unforgivable happen to her, and she definitely makes the reader feel conflicted at times.
I also appreciated the contrast between the supernatural and the mundane. Bayley struggles with acknowledging that she's actually being haunted with a ghost while also dealing with a difficult family life. Her sister is acting out, her mother is absent, and her little brother needs help understanding their father's death. Bayley is the glue that holds keeps the family going, and as she deals with this unbelievable and impossible problem by herself, she finds herself feeling bitter about the weight of her role in the family.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The identity of the murderer was pretty easy to guess early on. That said, even though I knew who was responsible, how it would all play out kept me turning the pages.
The Final Verdict:
PORTRAITS OF CELINA is a creepy, tense story of revenge that readers will want to enjoy with the lights on.