Clean slate. That's what Hendricks Becker-O'Malley's parents said when they moved their family to the tiny town of Drearfield, New York. Hendricks wants to lay low and forget her dark, traumatic past. Forget him. But things don't go as planned. Hendricks learns from new friends at school that Steele House--the fixer upper her parents are so excited about--is notorious in town. Local legend says it's haunted. But Hendricks isn't sure if it's the demons of her past haunting her ...or of the present. Voices whisper in her ear as she lays in bed. Doors lock on their own. And, then, one night, things take a violent turn. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don't take her first.
Hendricks is making friends with them, one of whom wants to date- but owing to what happened with her former boyfriend, Grayson, Hendricks is not sure if she is ready to date again. Her new home, The Steel House, was the scene of a gruesome murder but has been haunted for longer. Hendricks needs to figure out how to rid the house of ghosts if she or her family is to be safe.
Hendricks's neighbor, Eddie, might be able to help her, and although he is clearly a social pariah, she feels drawn to him- when no one else is around. Together, they may be able to figure out how to rid the house of these evil spirits.
What I loved: This book is creepy in a horroresque way with heavy supernatural elements. I would not recommend reading when alone at night, but it wasn't too scary- great for the intended audience. I was completely fascinated by the story- it pulls you in right away with not only the mystery of the house but also the mystery of Hendricks. She really comes to life off the pages, and I liked seeing the world through her eyes. This is ultimately a quick and fast-paced read.
What left me wanting more: There is quite a bit of side plot trying to create a romantic triangle that I really was not feeling. It was hard to see Hendricks getting pulled in by both boys in the time period and without having so many connecting conversations. I would have liked to pick one and have it built more. Also, it seemed a bit strange that Hendricks's parents were frequently leaving her alone and/or alone with her baby brother over night, especially considering what had happened in the past. However, these are relatively small things.
Final verdict: Overall, this is a fast-paced and fascinating supernatural horror that kept me quickly turning pages to the end. While I did not love the ending, it was complete and tied it all together really well. I would definitely recommend for people who are looking for creepy YA paranormal horror.
What worked: This is a chilling paranormal story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Think Riverdale meets Amityville. Some great horror scenes that are gripping and haunting. The middle of the novel had me turning the pages. Let's just say I had the lights on while reading. There's one scene that is gruesome and horrifying. The writing here felt like Stephen King-- lots of horror, suspense, and surprises.
Hendricks past has her vulnerable to things around here. Add to that leaving her friends and starting new at a small town high school can't be easy. The locals are accepting of her and try to let her join their crowd. There's the cute guy, Connor, who lets Hendricks know he wants to be more than friends. I liked Connor. He understood why she didn't want to rush into a relationship right off the bat. The other friends seem a little edgier and have a 'Mean girl' vibe going on, especially around Eddie, the high school outcast.
Okay, what I had a hard time with had to be how the parents never seemed to be around. They would leave almost every weekend. It didn't seem believable to me. Wouldn't they want to be close by, especially after what happened to Hendricks with her boyfriend?
I also didn't buy that Hendricks would fall that fast in love with Eddie. Sure, the vengeful ghosts would have her seeking for someone for comfort, but it seemed too forced for her to think there would be more to their relationship.
And the ending left me very upset. I won't spoil it, but it felt rushed and there wasn't any real conclusion. But that's just me.
Chilling paranormal story where the ghosts of the past seek vengeance and the teen who tries to save her family before they're the next victims.