Author Eden Maguire’s lifelong admiration for Emily Bronte's timeless classic, Wuthering Heights, ties in with her fascination for the dark side of life and informs her portrayal of the restless, romantic souls in The Beautiful Dead. She spends her time between the US and the UK, where she has published a great deal. This is her American debut.
Beautiful Dead: Jonas Bk.1 (v. 1) (March 2010, 279 pgs) is a dark YA novel about a teenage girl, Darina, who loses the love of her life in a street brawl. Phoenix, her murdered boyfriend, is actually the fourth student at Ellerton High to die under odd circumstances.
Rumors of ghosts and strange happenings tear through the small community as it confronts these four seemingly unrelated tragedies. Darina initially thinks she’s finally gone insane. Only after she physically kisses Phoenix does she begin to realize that the dead from Ellerton High have returned—and they have unfinished business!
Darina is at the edge, looking over. She can’t escape her intense heartache or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. Nor can she escape the sound of beating wings echoes inside her head…
My thoughts - I have to say this novel exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. The way it began, slowly and somewhat incoherently, with Darina acting out against her Mom/world and indulging in teenage drama as a mask for her inner grief, gave me the impression this would be a run of the mill kind of YA story. Thankfully, it isn't. Moreover, only the youth of the characters makes it feel like a YA novel, otherwise it'd have fit in well with other mainstream Paranormal/suspense books.
The story grows more intense with each subsequent page and develops into this sort of amateur whodunit with a paranormal bent and a Romeo-Juliet kind of doomed romance thrown in. This is the first in a series of four books by Eden Maguire and the main focus is solving the mystery of Jonas' death. That did disappoint me a bit as I was really rooting for Darina and Phoenix and would have loved to see that mystery solved first. My guess is the suspense will be eked out through the other books in this series, culminating in a grand finale which will be Phoenix's story. Naturally, I look forward to reading the other books and would recommend this one to even those who typically don't read YA novels.
Check out this website for lots of other information on this book and series - http://teenfire.ning.com/group/BeautifulDead
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Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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