First off, I want to thank Sterling Teen for gifting me this novel!
Alright let’s get to it.
cw: child abuse, fire, mentions of suicide, allusion to sexual assualt, physical violence, kidnapping, loss of a loved one, gun violence
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Lily McCrae is known as the weird, mortician girl. She tries not to let it get to her, and it doesn’t most of the time, afterall she loves her job prepping the dead for their funerals at her family’s mortuary. When her best friend, Mallory, starts to abandon her for the “cool girls,” she has no one left but the dead (lucky for her they’re great listeners). One day, a house gets leveled near hers, and she, Mallory, and Lily’s stepbrother, Evan, go to explore, they find Adam. Five years ago, Adam saved Lily’s life, but he seemed to have no memory of it…could this be the same guy? Lily was determined to uncover the truth.
My thoughts: Going in, I thought this was going to be incredibly different than it was. I thought it would follow Lily’s journey figuring out what happened to Adam while they work together to save the mortuary from going under. That was true to an extent but…it took an odd turn. It turned into a paranormal romance of sorts, that, if I’m being honest, just made me really uncomfortable. It wasn’t anything triggering or harmful, so I will not be spoiling what happened to make me uncomfortable, but it just didn’t sit right with me. Along the same lines of how the Twilight romance is a little uncomfortable, if that makes sense.
Okay, let’s talk about the characters. Lily was Y/N. That is all I can think to describe her– just very 2 dimensional. She’s the weird, quirky, bullied girl who was in love with the outsider guy that everyone was afraid of. It just seemed to me that she was the basic 2012 paranormal YA protagonist, which is fine! I love a good paranormal YA love story, but I acknowledge that the craze has passed, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Adam was easily the most complex of the characters. I feel that Fraser writing from Lily’s perspective really added to his mystery, but there were times where an Adam chapter could have been beneficial to the overall story. While not knowing what was going on in Adam’s mind was crucial to the mystery, it could have been helpful in the development of his character. He was complex because he was so simply written; all of his complexities were implicit, through his mannerisms and Lily’s view of him. I am really torn on how I feel about Adam as a character! I mean, he did what he was intended to do, but I feel like it could have been such a stronger story if he were developed into a fully fleshed out character.
Evan and Mallory each were just the quirky and funny side characters depending on the situation. I did enjoy their storylines even though, again, there was a lack of development.
As for the plot and the writing, my feelings can be summed up by the phrase I’ve used multiple times now: lack of development. There we quite a few times where a detail was mentioned (an intruder in the house, a limp, etc.) that I had to go back and reread certain scenes to see if I just missed that detail. Not really. There were a few times where it could have been alluded to, but there was no confirmation, no explicit statement, and nothing concrete to go on. This isn’t to say this can’t be done effectively, but in these particular circumstances, it wasn’t. I was just left confused.
Overall thoughts: The story as a whole was enjoyable! I was interested in the mystery, I was here for the action, I was even here for the romance at first. My main issue was that there wasn’t enough development to make me feel like this was a real story with real characters; I was just constantly getting pulled out of the story.
It is worth mentioning that this is a debut novel for Mary Ann Fraser after a career writing picture books, so I am hopeful that in future novels Fraser will develop her characters and details further. I will be on the look out for any novels she writes in the future and am excited to read them!
For a debut though, it wasn’t half bad! 3/5 stars.