Black Bottle Man

Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell has some incredibly intriguing elements. The magical aspects are different from typical paranormal fiction for teens and I found that refreshing. The hobo signs with power feel so natural within Russell’s world that I want to do some research and see if such things are explored more in folklore. I liked the premise of having to move on every twelve days and how that would influence the development of a young man.

I was somewhat disappointed with the chapter where the deal is made with the black bottle man. The deal is incredibly important to the plot and character development but it’s skirted around. The way the story unfolds isn’t linear, and that’s ok for most of the book I felt like the deal that has such an impact on the protagonist Rembrandt’s life should have had a more prominent part in the novel by being told in a more direct fashion. The motivation for the original deal is infertility and I’m not sure this is a subject that many teen readers will be able to relate to.

I would recommend this to teens who like an old fashioned supernatural adventure. The pace is slower than many popular teen novels, and the way it jumps around would be difficult for reluctant readers but I enjoyed it and I know some teens who would too.

Absolution

Cover artGail Gallant does a nice job of summarizing the first book before jumping into the meat of Absolution. Being able to stand alone is good in a book series.

The novel is a ghost story that has multiple levels. The people are haunted by ghosts who are haunted by their lives or deaths. Amelia’s ability to communicate with ghosts complicates her life.

The story is spooky, suspenseful and sad. The target audience is definitely teens and it’s interesting that even the supernatural characters have regular teen problems. Matt is permanently friendzoned because of his lack of a body, and extremely grumpy about it. His gruesome flashbacks to his death are disturbing.

The unique part of this book is it considers both the perspective of the people who have a ghost in their house, and the ghost who has new people moving into his house. Neither situation is desirable and Amelia has empathy for both.

The mysteries take interesting turns and it the denouement is emotional. Exactly what you want from a book like this.

Where I Belong

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Tara White’s novel Where I Belong is a paranormal twist on historical fiction. Dreams guide an adopted teen to her birth family. She connects with her Mohawk roots around the time of the Oka uprising. This is a quick read that deals with the struggle of identity as many teen books do. It has both excitement and sweet family moments. The psychic dreams are full of First Nations imagery and symbols.

Guardian

Natasha Deen’s novel Guardian is a supernatural mystery. It has a wonderful combination of teen drama, paranormal adventure, and suspense.

Dysfunctional families, bullies, and a murder make up the dark side of the story. There is also a lightness thanks to the sense of humour of the characters.

This book will appeal to fans of:

once dead twice shythe body finderthe summoning

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

 

After reading a dozen bcover artooks I didn’t care for this one was a breath of fresh air. It was fun, suspenseful and I read it in two quick sittings. A perfect book for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  A shy musician’s transformation in a werewolf is a light, fun, supernatural read  with a strong female lead. Some of the reactions of her friends were unrealistic and something we learn about the main love interest at the end made me rank it lower than I would have. Enjoyable but not overly memorable.

 

 

The Calling

This is the sequel to The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, so go read the first book before my review or there will be spoilers.

The Calling was everything one can hope for in a YA paranormal series.

  • It has a strong female character whom fights to survive and protect her friends.
  • It has action and suspense
  • It has chemistry between characters

Many of the things that were hinted at in The Gathering become more clear and some of the questions are answered. I find the middle books in Armstrong’s series’s to be less strong than the introductions and conclusions but they are enjoyable none the less. It looks like the end of this series will be a mash up with her other popular series that began with The Summoning so I highly recommend that fans read that trilogy in preparation for the next book.

 

 

The Town That Drowned

I received Riel Nason’s The Town That Drowned as a submission for the YABA. It starts off a bit odd and I wasn’t sure what to expect but in the end I loved it. It’s Canadian historical fiction with a tiny touch of the paranormal.

“Set in the 1960s, The Town That Drowned deftly evokes the awkwardness of childhood, the thrill of first love, and the importance of having a place, any place, to call home”.

The struggles of the town as a whole are beautifully reflected in Ruby’s story. The heart of the novel is Ruby’s relationship with her little brother, who appears to be in the autistic spectrum. His matter of fact way of seeing things and blunt speech frames the crisis in an interesting light, and her protectiveness of him is well written. Every one in the town is exposed as the bullies, hoarders or whatever they are in the face of adversity. It was a hard book to put down, even among the bustle of the holiday season.

I felt like Ruby had a personality that suited her family and small town life.