By: Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: October 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 22, 2016
The YA tree has, of late, seen only two distinct branches grow. The dystopian world where the future is more than bleak and teens represent the only rebellion that will succeed; and a branch that offers depressive, sometimes suicidal tales representing teens who just can't make it in this hideous world no matter how hard they try. Either oddly cool or dark and dreary, it seems that over the past decade (once those run-o'-the-mill "pretty" vampires exited the scene), the YA genre became easy to figure out and lost a bit of its vibrancy. But with books like this one, that vibrancy comes back in full, unimaginable color.
Ella is our main character. Her mother will be getting married in a few days, but Ella is actually more focused on how to let go of her father's memory. Although her father passed away before Ella was born, she's been thinking about him and visiting his grave her whole life. Convinced that her father watches over and protects her, no one-including her mother-understands Ella's complete fascination/obsession with a father she's never even known.
Is this a ghost story, or simply ghostly in appearance? Ella's father might really be watching over her. Or could it simply be the imagination of a girl who wants life to be different? With no hard evidence either way, readers find themselves at the mercy of this author's spectacular ideas.
A lie surfaces. A lie that perhaps her father did not die in a car accident after all. A statement made by her future stepbrother, Blake, shows that perhaps her dear, old Dad spent his remaining time on earth in a psychiatric hospital. From a mother who may have told her child a web of lies and raised her in a world of deceit; to a solid belief Ella has in the supernatural; to a mysterious handprint found on a mirror that matches one left on her father's grave - the elements of this tale all come together to provide the most amazing psychological thriller written in a very long time. (YA or otherwise.)
This fresh tale is so well-developed, so creepy, so intelligent, and so off-the-charts that readers will be absolutely riveted to this plot until the very last spell-binding page. The author grabs everyone with both her characters and her ability to weave a mystery of quiet, yet epic proportions. And, in the end, makes sure the reader knows that the old wives' tale is absolutely true: "Lies will come back to haunt you."
Quill says: The YA genre can rejoice. A dystopian world is not needed in this psychological suspense that literally deserves time up on the "big screen."