Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, by Paige McKenzie w/ Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Based on the YouTube series...
Shortly after her 16th birthday, Sunshine's mother moves them to Ridgemount, Washington (not D.C.). Almost immediately, Sunshine feels it: A creepy, almost menacing watchfulness and a damp cold she can't shake no matter how many sweaters and scarves she layers. This feeling has nothing to do with the dreary, foggy weather. And within the first 24 hours in her new home, Sunshine has her first encounter with a paranormal being.

But this is not a story filled with sparklerific vegetarian vampires or uber-buff werewolf boys. No way! Based on the YouTube show of the same name, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a good, old-fashioned ghost story, packed with plenty of spine-tingling moments and edge-of-your-seat suspense. And, on a refreshing note, there are absolutely NO love triangles. Or any romance at all.

Sunshine soon discovers her new home is inhabited by not one ghost, but two: There's the little girl in the soggy dress who cries in the night and seems desperate to communicate something important to Sunshine. Then there's the dark spirit who latches onto Sunshine's adopted mother, Katherine. These ghosts are connected, but how?

With the help of a local boy with an interest in the paranormal and a creepy teacher who seems to follow her everywhere, Sunshine learns she is no ordinary girl. She is a rare type of spirit guide who's mission is to help the spirits of the recently deceased move on. She also has the ability to vanquish demons like the one possessing Katherine.

On top of dealing with the hauntings, this is almost too much for Sunshine to take in, much less believe. But she must embrace her newfound powers if she's going to save Katherine's life. And she must do it SOON, because time is running out.

Regardless of if you're a fan of the YouTube show, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a worthwhile read and a great recommendation for those looking for a paranormal story sans romance. Debut author Paige McKenzie, who is also the star of the YouTube show, does a stellar job bringing characters and setting to life on the page. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the next installment.

The Final Verdict: A great ghost story that reminded me of the suspense/mystery books I loved as a teen back in the 90s. I devoured the whole thing in two sittings and wanted more at the end. My only complaints, and these are minor to be sure, were constant mentions of Sunshine's frizzy hair (overdone, I thought) and references to Jane Austen that seemed to add nothing to the story. Overall, though. An awesome first novel by a teen author. I'll expect great things from the next two books in this planned trilogy. --AJB

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