Restless in Peaceville by Pippa Jay

PEACEVILLE
Restless in Peaceville by Pippa Jay
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (124 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Not everyone gets a second chance, but Luke is one of the lucky ones.

What I found most interesting about Luke was how quickly his biggest personality flaws showed up in the first few scenes. I prefer reading about protagonists whose weaknesses are serious and can’t be easily overcome because it leaves so much room for character development. This book definitely gave Luke plenty of room to grow and change in his afterlife. For that reason alone, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping the author will consider writing a sequel. There is room for it if she decides to do so!

Two characters regularly shifted between a close, platonic friendship and a romantic relationship. They were well-suited for either option, but I would have preferred it if only one was emphasized. It was a little confusing to move back and forth between the two so often in a story this size. There wasn’t enough time in it to explain exactly why these characters were conflicted about what kind of relationship they wanted to have with one another because there were so many other things going on at the same time.

The pacing was excellent. I had a hard time taking any breaks from reading it, especially later on when the tension reached its peak. While I would have loved it if this tale was twice as long, the length the author chose worked incredibly well for her premise. She struck a good balance between giving brief glimpses of Luke’s past and pushing him further ahead on his quest before time runs out.

Restless in Peaceville is a smart twist on the zombie genre. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves the dark side of paranormal fiction.

The Revenge Artist by Philip Hoy

Girl writing at her desk at school
The Revenge Artist by Philip Hoy
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A bullied teen embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers the power to make bad things happen by drawing them.

Evelyn Hernandez is a high school junior who reads Shakespeare for fun, sews her own dresses, and keeps a sketch journal of her daily life. When varsity quarterback Garvey Valenzuela breaks her heart, she sends him to the emergency room with a busted hand.

Add black magic to her résumé.

The Revenge Artist is the story of a bullied teen who embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them. The novel explores the emotional pain, isolation, and self-hatred caused by bullying and cyber-bullying in particular as it follows the self-destructive path taken by one teen attempting to defend herself from bullies.

Evelyn is temporarily empowered by her ability to hurt others, “Don’t you know? I’m a witch… a real, honest to God, black-hearted, evil witch!” and this is what keeps her from seeing that her true power comes from her loyal and caring nature, the love and support of her friends and family, and most of all, her intelligence and creativity.

They say karma catches up with everyone eventually, so what’s wrong with helping it show up a little early?

Evelyn’s character development was strong. She has a good balance of flaws and strengths, several of which played an important role later on in this tale. I really enjoy it when authors tie their protagonist’s personalities so strongly to the plot because it leaves a lot of room for the main character to grow emotionally as a result of his or her experiences.

There were some pacing issues early on. Approximately the first third of the book was used for character development as well as setting the scene for everything that happened later on. While all of the background information I learned in this section was important, the blurb lead me to assume that I’d be reading something that moved along more quickly. In some ways these two portions felt like entirely different stories due to how they were paced and the issues they spent the most time focusing on. It would have been helpful to have a few more glimpses of the excitement to come in the first chapter or two in order to bridge the gap between Evelyn’s ordinary life and what happens to her after her big betrayal.

The conversations Evelyn has with her friends sometimes switched from English to Spanish for a phrase or sentence. I recommend taking the time to translate them to anyone who isn’t fluent in Spanish because they were so well written and informative. It was fun to get to know Evelyn and her friends from these brief exchanges as they often showed sides of these characters’ personalities that were otherwise hidden.

The Revenge Artist is an intriguing choice for anyone who knows what it’s like to be teased or bullied in school.

The Dark of the Moon by Samantha Allard

DARK
The Dark of the Moon by Samantha Allard
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (96 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A missing brother, werewolves at war, and she’s stuck in the middle. Rachel might not be your average girl, but even she has her limits.

Rachel Valentine isn’t your average girl.

Three years ago her brother disappeared, and Rachel went off the rails quite spectacularly. Now she is trapped in a nunnery because she accidently blew up half the science department at her old school. One night she sees her long-lost brother in the crowd behind a reporter on television. There’s no mistaking who he is, but getting her parents to believe her is a different matter. It leaves her one option: break out of the nunnery and travel to London to track him down.

She’s about to find out that things are never that simple and there are some secrets that are impossible to believe.

Nothing can stop this girl’s mission. Or can it?

Yes, Rachel has a prickly side, but underneath that is someone who would do absolutely anything to help her brother. Her strong attachment to her sibling is what first made me like her, and her kind, ethical personality soon gave me other reasons to root for her as well. Developing such a strong moral code makes up for a lot of personal flaws. While Rachel definitely has more than her fair share of them, this made her feel like a real person to me.

There were some plot holes that I noticed later on in this tale. One of the characters suddenly possesses a skill that had never been mentioned before. I would have preferred to have much more information about where this skill came from and why it took so long to show up. It would have also been helpful if more time had been spent explaining why everyone reacts to this event the way they do. Certain parts of it briefly made me wonder if there was a prequel that hadn’t shown up on my Internet searches for this title.

As a fan of the werewolf sub-genre, it’s always interesting to see how authors visualize this part of their books. Ms. Allard struck a smart balance between describing her version of werewolf culture and showing how humans who aren’t accustomed to it would realistically react to the less savoury parts of it. It was fun to see this world through her eyes.

Give The Dark of the Moon a try if you enjoy contemporary werewolf stories.

The Riddle of Prague by Laura DeBruce

RIDDLE
The Riddle of Prague by Laura DeBruce
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Paranormal, Action/Adventure, YA
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Age recommendation: 16+
Rated: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

When 18-year-old Hana Silna travels to Prague to reclaim her family’s ancestral home, she finds herself on an unexpected adventure in a city brimming with ancient secrets. She discovers a riddle by the infamous alchemist Edward Kelley that claims to lead to a long-last flask. The contents of that flask could change the fate of the world. When a ruthless enemy kidnaps her family, Hana has to find the flask to rescue them. On her quest she meets a mysterious man with a penchant for poetry, a Gypsy girl with a haunting past, and Alex, the motorcycle-riding son of a U.S. diplomat. Alex — who’s trying to save his sister from a crippling disease — joins Hana on her race across Bohemia to find the hidden flask. It’s hard to trust anyone when the stakes are this high — especially when surrounded by experts at deception. There’s only one flask and Hana desperately needs to find it.

Reported in the first person and abruptly in-the-moment, The Riddle of Prague is intriguing but also, often, disorienting.

Hana, raised in America, is strongly motivated to visit The Czech Republic (home of her ancestors and still some family.) She bumps into unusual characters, and unclear circumstances, right from the start. As we are wondering if she drank a spiked drink, she’s already on to the next challenge. Hana is an incredible heroine: brave yet understanding, clever, but willing to listen. She’s such a real person, her character alone is enough to keep you reading.

Fast, unpredictable and in your face, I found the story confusing at times, as much action (and thought) is neither described nor unexplained, and only made clear as one progresses with the story. Readers must willingly be confused and move forward, nonetheless.

The backdrop, and the historic references, are interwoven into the story simply beautifully. The fantastical Flask with its mysterious, hoped-for healing powers ties the paranormal elements very nicely to the history of the place, and adds a certain depth to the mystery. With a hint of romance and (much) more than a hint of danger in the quest, this book, Debruce’s first in her Quicksilver Legacy Series, offers a little of something for everyone, and leaves us all waiting for book 2.

Very readable, and fans of the paranormal might want to give The Riddle of Prague a try.

End of Normal by S.C. Arscott

End Of Normal
End of Normal by S.C. Arscott
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (216 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Richards’ last day of normal is just that, normal. She worries about impressing Sawyer Rising, the hottest guy in school, and argues with her mother. Everything seems fine except for that strange, glowing plant in the yard and her dad lying to her and deaf twin brother Charlie, which is the weirdest thing of all because their parents do not lie to them. Ever.

Normal ends as lights shoot out of the sky and turn into stinging drones, killing their parents. As he lay dying, their father gives them cryptic clues about coordinates and begs forgiveness before insisting they leave.

The twins join forces with Olivia’s boyfriend Axel, her best friend Clara, and heartthrob Sawyer. Together they go in search of answers only to find conspiracy, death, and an awful truth about their families.

Sometimes parents keep secrets from their kids, but most of them aren’t as dangerous as the one Olivia’s father has been keeping from her.

One of the things I appreciated the most about Olivia is how calm she stays in a crisis. She thinks through her options carefully before making a decision even when she’s in danger. This isn’t something that typically happens in this sort of tale, so it was a real treat to realize that the protagonist is such an intelligent and level-headed girl.

The pacing of this novel was disjointed. While the flashbacks to Olivia’s previous life were interesting, describing what her last few days of normalcy were like took up a disproportionate amount of space in the plot. These scenes would have made a good prequel, but they didn’t blend in very well with the fast-paced material that appears later on.

There are times when a book needs to be vivid and gross in order to get its point across. This isn’t normally the sort of thing I seek out in this genre, but it worked really well for this particular story. It’s hard to discuss it in detail without giving away spoilers, of course, but I was pleased to see how neatly the author tied everything together. Certain scenes would have been much less effective without these elements. I also thought I should mention it in my review because it’s something I would have preferred to know about ahead of time.

I’d recommend End of Normal to anyone in the mood for action-heavy science fiction.

Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page

ISLAS
Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (207 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.

SHE IS NOT DEAD.

Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.

Nothing can be kept secret from everyone forever.

At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of Isla. Her personality was described in great detail, but her flaws happened to be things that I find irritating. She definitely caught my attention, though, so I withheld further judgement until I got to know her better. I’m very glad I did this because Isla is the kind of protagonist who becomes more alluring the longer I spend with her. All of her flaws ended up making her a well-rounded, intriguing girl I was a little sad to say goodbye to.

Early on a section of dialogue mentioned that certain characters are much more sensitive to iron than they are to steel. This was confusing to me since steel is is made by smelting iron ore to remove impurities and make the metal stronger. I would have liked to have some sort of scientific or paranormal explanation for why this rule was the exact opposite of what I would have logically expected to be the case. It could have added a lot of depth to this part of the plot.

Isla’s close bond with Aunt Elizabeth brought warmth to this story. I’m a big fan of young adult fiction that treats adults with respect. By no means is Aunt Elizabeth perfect, but the unconditional love she has for her children and niece make me look forward to hearing more from her. She was a wonderful supporting character.

There were several instances when the pacing was uneven. The first few chapters were well paced and full of excitement, so I was surprised to find my interest flagging after that in large part because there were so many different things going simultaneously. While the subplots were interesting, some of them did have the tendency to steal the spotlight in situations when I would have rather learned more about the main plot.

The use of color in this book was interesting. Almost everyone agrees that red is an angry color and blue is a calm one. Ms. Page used these cultural assumptions in some pretty fun ways during the course of her tale. This wasn’t something I was at all expecting to occur, so seeing exactly where she went with them was even more amusing than it might have been otherwise.

Isla’s Inheritance made me smile. It’s a good choice for anyone who likes contemporary fantasy.

Krystal’s Calling by Melissa Solorzano

KRYSTAL
Krystal’s Calling by Melissa Solorzano
Publisher: Forever More Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (142 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Krystal enters adulthood on her eighteenth birthday, and to have her life change forever as Mother Earth marks her as her daughter. Together Krystal and Courtney leave on a calling, unsure of where they’re going or what lays ahead.

Krystal awakens on her eighteenth birthday to discover her life will change forever. Mother Earth has decided to awaken something inside her that the realm is in need of, as dark forces seek to do harm.

As a half-elf, Krystal is now an adult and can make her own choices. Her first calling comes, and she must leave her home to start a journey she hopes will have her following in her father’s footsteps. With her best friend at her side, Krystal rides away from their childhood home to an unknown destination that could shape her destiny.

It’s much easier to focus on the freedom that comes with growing up than it is to think about all of the responsibilities that come with it. How will Krystal adjust to the new rules in her life?

One of the things I look for in a protagonist is someone whose faults could actually have a negative effect on the plot. Krystal definitely fits this bill. Knowing that she isn’t perfect, and, more importantly, that there’s a chance she could make a big mistake that unravels all of the good she’s trying to do was helpful. I liked what the author did with this character’s personality and development.

There was a lot of telling instead of showing in this novella. It was especially noticeable in the dialogue. I learned almost everything I know about Krystal’s importance to her people through conversations with her mother. It felt odd for these two characters to go into so much detail about this part of their lives when no one else was around because all of it was stuff their whole family had been aware of for a very long time.

I’ve always had the impression that elves are absolutely horrified by modern human technology, so it was intriguing to see something written about their race that was set in the present day. Ms. Solorzano struck a delicate balance between portraying the quiet, nature-loving elements of their culture that I’d expect to see while also showing how they might thrive in the twenty-first century.

Figuring out the most appropriate age recommendation was really tricky. Krystal acts much younger than her chronological age for reasons that I never figured out. The writing style included playful plot twists that are much more common in middle grade fiction, yet there were also explicit sexual content that I’ve only ever seen written for mature teens. It’s quite unusual to see these kinds of things included in the same book. I even briefly wondered if Krystal had some sort of learning or developmental disorder due to certain things that happen in the first few scenes. Had the author provided even a brief explanation of what was going on here, I would have felt comfortable giving this tale a higher rating.

If there’s one thing a decent villain needs to be, it’s legitimately dangerous. I was pleasantly surprised by just how frightening the villain in this story turned out to be. The threat to Krystal’s safety is made painfully obvious as the identity of her antagonist is exposed. There is no doubt here at all that this bad guy has terrible intentions.

Krystal’s Calling is a good choice for anyone who really enjoys fantasy stories about elves.

Pandora’s Jar by Sharron Riddle

VIEL
Pandora’s Jar by Sharron Riddle
Veil Walker, Book One
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, YA
Length: Full Length (312 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

It’s hard enough being a seventeen year old Veil Walker, but when your boyfriend’s a demigod and your mom’s dating a soul sucker, things can get a lot worse.

Pandora has seen ghosts since she was a kid, and now she learns she can bring back the spirits of the dead. Why would she do that? She has enough trouble getting rid of the ones stuck on this side. One annoyingly perky ghost wants Pandora to find her killer, but Ukwa, her super-hot boyfriend, doesn’t like the idea.

When trouble finds her, will she discover the true strength of a Veil Walker or, like the others, will her soul be trapped in her own Pandora’s Jar forever?

Is ignorance really bliss?

I truly feel sorry for Pandora. She knows very little about her abilities as a Veil Walker. With no one to teach her about her power, every day is a struggle, and Pandora constantly lives in fear of accidentally acknowledging a ghost in front of others. Consequently, Pandora has no close friends. A particularly bad encounter with a ghost followed by an argument with her father prompts Pandora to go and live with her mom in Florida. Pandora is hoping for a fresh start, but she soon learns that she can’t hide from her problems.

Pandora’s relationship with her parents is beyond messed up. It is clear that her parents love her, but neither of them really act like parents. While it is understandable for parents to have interests and lives outside of their children, Pandora’s parents have taken this to the extreme. They are so self-involved that they completely ignore their daughter at times. I found the whole situation quite disturbing, especially when Pandora’s dad makes a particularly shocking revelation toward the end of the book. Honestly, I’m amazed that Pandora is sane given the nature of her power and the complete lack of familial support.

Pandora is very strong and she has managed to hold herself together without help from anyone else for a long time. However, I really enjoyed watching her blossom when she made some friends at her new school. In a short time, I saw a lot of positive changes in Pandora. She still has some issues to work through, but having others to confide in has gone a long way in bringing Pandora out of her shell.

Pandora’s connection with Ukwa is intense and complicated. They have excellent chemistry, but his refusal to give her straight answers about her power is very annoying. While his intentions might be good, he ended up treating her like a child. I think it would have been more effective if he would have respected her and had an honest conversation with her right from the start. Despite this issue, Pandora and Ukwa make a wonderful, if unusual, couple. Even though they find themselves in some intense situations, I really like that they make time to talk and really getting to know each other.

Nancy, the ghost, is definitely my favorite secondary character. I could clearly picture her flitting around, laughing, causing mischief, and playing with Pandora’s dog. Nancy’s perky attitude was a nice contrast to Pandora’s more serious moods and the darker events of the story.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Pandora’s Jar. I found the concept of a Veil Walkers very intriguing, and I still have a lot of questions buzzing around in my head. I certainly hope that Ms. Riddle has plans for a sequel soon so I can satisfy my curiosity. Fans of paranormal romance won’t want to miss Pandora’s Jar.

Chicken River Dance by A.N. Irvano

CHICKEN
Chicken River Dance by A.N. Irvano
Publisher: Falling Horse Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (242 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Young members of Ryan’s family are killed and he follows an inherent need to crush the crooks that run the killings. He is aided by Cecilia, a girl he has been getting to know for months and her mother, a shaman. Life in the Oakland projects can not move on until the extraordinary and unreal events are able to be questioned. Buoyed by the cultures, conversations, and characters of the people in it, small cultures can survive when small criminals exist.He lets his life’s losses carry him to find that not everything, if anything, can be revolutionized or bettered in this life and time of the American West.

Justice doesn’t always happen automatically. Sometimes you have to seek it out.

At first I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of Ryan. His emotional response to a family tragedy early on in the plot wasn’t at all what I would have expected from anyone who had just experienced such a terrible event. He was clearly incredibly smart and thoughtful, but it wasn’t until the author explained the reasons behind his reluctance to express his feelings that I really came to like this character. Every question I had about him in the beginning was answered in full, and I enjoyed watching his development over the course of this novel.

It would have been helpful to have more detailed introductions of the secondary characters. The actual number of them was just right for something this length, but so little time was spent explaining how everyone was connected to Ryan that it took me a while to put all of the pieces together. It was most confusing when I was trying to figure out who was and was not related to him.

The romantic subplot caught me by surprise due to how quickly it happened. The chemistry between the characters involved in it was strong, though, and seeing how both of them reacted to falling in love added depth to their personalities that would not have otherwise been there. It ended up working quite well with everything else that was going on in this tale.

I would have also liked to see more differentiation between the voices of the various characters. Everyone tended to use the same patterns of speech no matter who they were or what circumstances they found themselves in. The dialogue itself was often poetic. It was especially well suited to Ryan’s personality when he was describing his surroundings or remembering something, but the formality of it was out of place during the most exciting scenes.

Some philosophical questions are much easier to answer than are others. Ryan’s startling self-awareness for someone his age lead to a much deeper analysis of the meaning of life than I was expecting when I started the first chapter. It was especially interesting to see what Ryan had to say about social justice and the tension between the needs of individuals versus the needs of their communities.

Chicken River Dance is the kind of story that I’d recommend to teens and adult readers alike.

By Starlight by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier

STARLIGHT
By Starlight by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (194 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The night my best friend Gracie disappeared, I had a nightmare.

A monster loomed from the shadows around the campfire. I ran. The thing stretched after me…

I woke gasping, afraid it might somehow be true. Gracie could always make me feel better – but she didn’t respond to my email. Not that night; not ever.

That’s what lead to my summer camp counselor job here near Gracie’s home. Hiking and canoeing fill every moment but I don’t forget why I’m here. I’m going to find Gracie.

The camp-owner, a famous Native seer, isn’t any help. Her herbal healing and Spirit Bear talisman won’t help find Gracie.

There’s the local ranger and my campers, but will they believe me? I’m alone with this. Somehow, every step toward Gracie takes me nearer to something scary. This is a mystery I must solve.

If the police can’t solve the mystery of her friend’s disappearance, what chance does Kitsai have of doing it?

Kitsai intrigued me from the beginning. She wavered between acting much younger than her chronological age and understanding the mystery of what happened to her friend better than any of the adults around her. The mixture of maturity and immaturity kept my attention focused on this character even when I didn’t necessarily like her as an individual. She isn’t the kind of person who is easy to figure out. To me that’s a good thing to experience while getting to know the protagonist. A little uncertainty goes a long way in keeping my attention.

With that being said, Kitsai’s character flaws were too serious for this particular tale. She makes decisions that should have never been an option for someone in her occupation. Her lack of insight into why these choices were so potentially dangerous made it hard for me to believe that no one else noticed what was going on. The plot’s explanation for it was partially satisfying, but I would have preferred to see way more time spent exploring why she was so often left to her own devices and poor judgement.

The mystery itself was gripping and well-paced. As someone who once lived in British Columbia, it was eerie for me to pick up on the similarities between this piece of fiction and the real life missing person cases from that province that still remain unsolved. In no way it is necessary to know anything about those cases in order to enjoy this story, but I do think it will be a fun bonus for readers who are familiar with them.

It was never clear to me why the romantic subplot was included. There were so many other, more pressing matters for the characters involved in it to address that the romance felt out of place. This would have made good fodder for a sequel if the author ever decides to write one, but it wasn’t a good fit for this particular adventure.

Some people like to live without any modern conveniences when they go camping. Others are much more comfortable having at least occasional access to air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and the Internet. Seeing what happens when various characters get much more or less than they were expecting in these areas provided some much-needed levity in otherwise tense scenes. Including this minor conflict was a good idea.

There are paranormal elements in this book, but they don’t show up right away. The overall themes and tropes are much more heavily weighted toward what one generally expects to find in mysteries and young adult novels. This is the sort of thing I strongly prefer to know ahead of time when deciding what to read which is why I’m mentioning it in this review.

I’d recommend By Starlight to fans of the mystery and young adult genres alike.