Friends to the End by C.L. Colyer

Friends to the End by C.L. Colyer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he’ll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach’s concerned, it’s his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday.

When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach’s not worried. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what’s real and what’s not.

Dying with unfinished business is no laughing matter.

The spirits were well written and generally sympathetic characters. While there were a few frightening ones that I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to meet in a dark alley, I was pleased with the wide range of personalities and backstories they had in general. Getting to know characters like these and learning what might have kept them tied to earthly matters after their deaths is one of the things I enjoy the most about paranormal stories. It was utterly delightful to have so many opportunities to do so here.

I would have liked to see a little more attention paid to world building. For example, some ghosts in this world seem to be much more powerful than others. Certain beings also appeared to have some special abilities that aren’t commonly seen in this genre. As much as I liked the plot in general, all of these pieces of information never quite gelled into a coherent explanation of how the afterlife works in this universe. If it had, I would have happily chosen a full five-star rating.

The narrator had some poignant things to say about grief, friendship, and regret. These scenes did a wonderful job of rounding out Zach’s character and exposing the audience to portions of his personality that many preteens his age would probably keep to themselves in most other situations. Every time he revealed another fact about his past and the heavy grief he was trying so hard to hide from his new friends, I grew to like him even more than I already did.

Friends to the End was a heartwarming read for anyone who loves the paranormal side of the fantasy genre.

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