Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication date: August 1st 2013
by Orchard Books
This is a book about a ghost called Story.
She's lost in the city - alone, afraid and without her memory.
Then she meets Jude, a boy who sees the dead.
And he is the only one who can help her remember...
-A copy was provided by Hachette Children's Books UK for review-
This blurb, this cover, it gives off such a wonderful creepy vibe that intrigued me immediately. Ghosts! London Cemeteries! A girl with no memories! All things that made this book an instant must-have. Although one part does have its share of thrill, the mythologies introduced felt out of place, the characters are flat and boring, and the story is nothing if not cheesy.
The book begins with Jude finding this girl in a cemetery who is not quite a ghost, but not a live person either. People can’t see her, yet she’s not cold nor does she have any other ghost qualities. She also has no memory of who she is. It was an attention grabbing beginning which I thought for sure a good sign. Then we start to learn how these ghosts can sleep, eat, and other bizarre non-ghostly things I started to have a cocked eyebrow that never really went away. There were other lores introduced as well, like shape shifters and magical sea creatures. I usually would have found this interesting, except I didn’t think it was a good fit in this particular story. This is made worse since they aren’t really ever explored, merely mentioned fleetingly. This, in addition to what turns out to be some paranormal infused mob-like story made the plot feel like it wanted to be bigger than it was. I think it would have made for a stronger, more polished plot had it chosen a main direction. As it lay it was not a very chilling read, there was simply too much distraction and cheesiness. It even felt more like an MG novel at times, except for the few violent parts at least.
The writing was also peculiar in parts. I think, from what I’ve gathered, that this book is originally German and was translated to English. You can definitely tell at parts. I know it’s set in London so some dialect and sayings will be different, but even so, there are some sentences that I’m pretty sure were not correctly translated. It made reading it a little jarring at times.
What I did enjoy were the cemeteries we visit or that are eerily described throughout. It was the one part that delivered in creepiness. The mystery of the men without faces as well as the inclusion of stone angels, too, were haunting. If only it had ended on a terrific note it might have saved this book for me. Alas, that wasn’t the case.
This book could have been a lot of things – it’s an original premise with tons of potential – so it’s unfortunate that its execution fell flat in almost every aspect. But you never know, it’s different enough that it may gather a niche audience.