Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ghostly Pick: Unraveling Isobel--A Must-Read

Unraveling Isobel
by Eileen Cook
Simon Pulse
304 pages (according to publisher's website)

Available January 3, 2012 (date from publisher's website)

Read Chapter One here

Clever, creepy, creative, and seductive, Unraveling Isobel is my new favorite ya title. Full of Gothic appeal and details--a creepy, moss-covered mansion fallen into disrepair bulging with dusty antiques hand-crafted by dead ancestors, portraits of said dead ancestors peering down from its ancient walls, a step-father who reeks of disdain and old money, a mother who is so in love with wacktastic step-father that she can't even see what a horse's patooty he is, and a hot and sexy step-brother--all part of Isobel's new life.

Her mother met Richard, the new step-father, on the Internet and married him after only three months of dating. She moves Isobel to a small island off the coast of Washington state--it's Isobel's senior year and she can't believe how ignorant and self-serving her mother is acting. She doesn't care that Isobel has to leave her home, her school, and all her friends. She wants only her own happiness with not a care for her daughter.

Weird things happen the first night at the mansion. A ghost of a child appears to Isobel and she finds a puddle of sea water on the window seat of her room with a bit of slimy seaweed. Isobel knows that Richard's first wife and young daughter drowned last year. She suspects that Evie is trying to reach out to her, but can't figure out what the child-ghost is trying to tell her. Isobel enlists the help of Nathaniel, her hot step-brother. Soon, there's passionate and scintillating sparks whenever they're together.

At school, mean, but popular girl, Nicole befriends Isobel--but she has an ulterior motive. By being friends with Isobel, she gets to see Nathaniel--who she has had her eyes on for some time.

Evie appears to Isobel and Isobel really isn't afraid of her--she's more afraid that she may be going a little crazy; her dad suffers from schizophrenia, after all. She knows that it is an genetic disorder and can sometimes be passed on to the next generation. Is Evie for real, or is Isobel "losing" it?

Isobel visits the library to get some answers about the girl's drowning and befriends one of the librarians, Mandy. She helps Isobel find articles about the mansion and tells her about two girls who vanished there some years ago. They were never found, but Isobel discovers their secrets.

Unraveling Isobel is delightful gothic romance. Isobel has a great teenage voice dripping with sarcasm, hyperbole, and funny metaphors. It is a clever ghost story--as enthralling as it is entertaining. I was spellbound and speechless when Mandy's true identity becomes known! This is a must read for fans of gothic romance, ghost stories, and anyone who enjoys a vulnerable, yet strong, heroine.

There are two things I have some trouble with: One is the depiction of the older librarian--so typical of the old-school librarian--nearly Nazi-like behavior and demeanor--an old lady who likes things tidy and silent. We all know today's librarians are much more fun (if I do say so myself). Secondly, the cover does not have much teen appeal. Girls may not pick up this book unless they hear about if from a friend or a blog.

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Some language, some kissing. Isobel call's her new step-dad "Dick" since his name is Richard and he truly lives up to his nickname. Isobel knows her mother and new step-father are having a passionate romance, but she can't stomach imagining her own mother ever having sex. Pretty funny stuff-sheer teen-age angst.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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