fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsPast Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Charlotte’s parents are ghost-hunters who travel the country investigating (and debunking) the paranormal. In the past, Charlotte’s peers have treated her like a freak when they learned about her parents’ profession, so when Charlotte starts a new school at the beginning of senior year, she keeps it a secret. Avery, a popular cheerleader, lives across the street from Charlotte’s new home, and the two girls become fast friends. Finally, Charlotte thinks she’s going to have a normal life —that is, until ghostly presences start manifesting around her, and until it becomes clear that there’s a secret at Charlotte’s school that no one will talk about, not even Avery.

Mara Purnhagen’s Past Midnight is a book I read in one sitting (and yes, I stayed up well past midnight to do it). The plot twists aren’t particularly shocking, but Purnhagen does a great job of raising the tension to nail-biting levels nonetheless. Charlotte is a likable protagonist, and the relationships (familial, friendly, romantic) are realistic and complex. The prose is transparent; it doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s the kind of prose that stays out of the way of the story.

If you’re tired of overwritten prose and the standard array of YA paranormal clichés, give Past Midnight a try. It’s refreshingly devoid of those things. It’s simply a good (and spooky) story. Ghost story fans will enjoy this one. The added element of ghost-hunter parents is fun, original, and promises a steady supply of plot hooks as the Past Midnight series continues. The novel is short but reasonably priced, and I recommend it to YA readers who are sick of the same-old same-old.

Past Midnight — (2010-2011) Young adult. Publisher: Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I’m not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV… no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I’m usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven’t gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents’ research trip in Charleston — and now I’m being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents’ creepy occupation a secret from my friends — and potential boyfriends — is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….

Mara Purnhagen Past Midnight 1. Past Midnight 2. One Hundred CandlesMara Purnhagen Past Midnight 1. Past Midnight 2. One Hundred Candlesfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

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  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.