Silence

Author: Michelle Sagara
Publisher: DAW Books (Penguin)
Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 256
Series: The Queen of the Dead
Genre: YA- Paranormal Fantasy

Death has surrounded Emma for most of her relatively short existence. Having suffered the loss of a family member and her boyfriend, she is no stranger to the pain and loneliness that follows the death of a loved one. Every evening she seeks what little comfort and closeness the solitude of the cemetery can afford her. When her nightly visit is interrupted by the new boy from school and his elderly companion, Emma finds herself in the middle of a meeting she wasn’t meant to encounter. Something about the old woman isn’t quite right, as if she doesn’t really belong…as if she isn’t really there. Before Emma can even begin to imagine the danger she might have stumbled into, the old woman greets her with a frighteningly icy kiss.

From the start, this book pulled me in. You can’t resist the draw of that creepily gorgeous cover and the very first paragraph just sealed it further. I just knew I had stumbled upon something brilliant here.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT NIGHT.
     The world changes, the shadows grow, there’s secrecy and privacy
in dark places. First kiss, at night, by the monkey bars and the old
swings that the children and their parents have vacated; second, longer,
kiss, by the bike stands, swirl of dust around feet in the dry summer air.
Awkward words, like secrets just waiting to be broken, the struggle to
find the right ones, the heady fear of exposure— what if, what if— the
joy when the words are returned. Love, in the parkette, while the moon
waxes and the clouds pass.
    Promises, at night. Not first promises— those are so old they can’t be
remembered— but new promises, sharp and biting; they almost hurt to
say, but it’s a good hurt. Dreams, at night, before sleep, and dreams during
sleep.
    Everything, always, happens at night.

And we went along like this for nearly a quarter of the book. The graveyard scenes were wonderfully eery and Emma’s melancholy life just screamed for something great and sinister to enter into it. It was a go up until that point but then, quite suddenly, the tone of the story changed direction entirely. Instead of beautifully descriptive paragraphs graced with a subtle overlay of magic, I found myself wading through 95% dialogue in an effort to hold on to the slippery 5% of remaining story. It was an exercise in futility as at this point there really wasn’t much story left.

Some of it was just silly. I lost count of how many times Eric threatened to kill Chase (be it jokingly, half-jokingly or seriously). I was frustrated at the lack of explanation for Emma, her gifts, WHAT WAS GOING ON, and everyone’s blind acceptance of the circumstances. Say you suddenly see dead people, and you share this with everyone and they say “Hey! We see the dead people too!”….no one is questioning this? And Emma, dear girl, not every boy that threatens to kill you turns out to be an Ash. Sometimes he’s just a guy threatening to kill you.

I have a small sad because of this.

The underlying Nancy Drew factor is still rather intriguing and if we can thin out the dialogue a bit then we really have something to work with here. Liberating lingering spooks with necromancy could be an impressive twist if future installments of the series end up leaning more toward mystery. The whole gang loading up into the car to go hunt ghosts? So very Scooby Doo and everyone loves Scooby Doo.

*Quote taken from Miz Sagara’s website. Go and visit! You can read the first few chapters now! Thank you to DAW books for sending this one my way.

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