Here are three YA novels I read and adored recently … just in time to recommend to you during the spookiest time of the year.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter with a twist: He actually kills ghosts who are harming humans. He moves to Thunder Bay, Ontario, with the goal of killing a ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna still wears the dress she wore on the day she was murdered in 1958 (hence the "Dressed in Blood" part), and ever since that day, she has been killing every person who enters the Victorian house (now abandoned and definitely haunted by her and the ghosts of everyone she's killed) where she used to live.
If you're looking for a ghost story with some real meat to it, look no further. There are some genuinely horrific scenes, but there are also some genuinely awesome characters, starting with Cas, who is one of the coolest guys I've encountered in fiction lately. In fact, I liked this book so much that I've written up a blurb for the paperback edition. Here's the blurb:
"Anna Dressed in Blood is a deliciously creepy ghost story, starring a ghost hunter so cool he deserves a fan club. If you love haunted houses, atmosphere so thick you can cut it, and romance with a morbid twist (who doesn't?), this is the book for you."
It's perfect reading for this time of year!
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
There's a short list of subjects that, when put together, create a book I absolutely cannot resist. They include:
- A U.K. setting
- Boarding school
- Girl detectives
- Supernatural hijinks
The Name of the Star checks all of these boxes. It's like Maureen Johnson wrote a book especially for meeeee (don't disillusion me!).
The heroine of the book is 17-year-old Louisiana native Rory Deveaux, who moves to London to attend Wexford (a private school). Unfortunately for Rory, just as she's getting acquainted with life at Wexford (dorms! roommates! going to the pub!), a Jack the Ripper copycat killer begins to terrorise (honorary British spelling) London with a series of vicious murders.
Of course, things are not as they seem! The Jack the Ripper copycat killer cannot be caught on camera. And Rory is the only person who has seen him. You know what this means? OK, maybe not, but I will tell you: It means that Rory can see ghosts. And that there is a whole police force out there in charge of managing said ghosts. How can you resist? Read it now!
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
While Texas Gothic is not set in a U.K. boarding school, it is set on a Texas ranch, which, honestly, is practically just as good! It also involves a girl detective undergoing supernatural hijinks, but this time with Clement-Moore's trademark snappy dialogue. It reminds me very much of the best of Elizabeth Peters' romantic suspense novels, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Those books are like candy for me, and I'm always looking for more of them. Thank you, Rosemary Clement-Moore!
The book is about 18-year-old Amy Goodnight, a girl who comes from a long line of witchy women. Amy herself would rather be normal, but unfortunately her tendency to attract ghosts kind of puts a crimp into her plans. She's hoping for an ordinary summer while ranch-sitting for her aunt, but instead she encounters a dead body — or at least, a skeleton, which promptly involves bringing in the local university's archaeology department — an unfriendly (or is it?) spirit, and a sexy cowboy next door.
If you like witty repartee, smart girls, archaeology (come on, who doesn't? This is another of those elements I always love to find in books), and Wild West mythology, I bet you'll love this book.
Happy (early) Halloween!
P.S. If you're keeping score, here are things I LOVE AND CANNOT RESIST in books: (1) U.K.; (2) boarding school; (3) smart girl detectives; (4) supernatural hijinks; (5) archaeology; (6) witty repartee; (7) spooky atmosphere. Can somebody please write a new book ((Yes, this is many an Elizabeth Peters novel, but I have read them all!)) that includes all those elements for me? Thank you.