Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she's wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?
This is the first novel I have read of Pauline Creeden. An author friend, Ian Acheson, encouraged me to consider her books. I then saw her advertise this new book on Twitter and asked her if this would be published in the Kindle format. It was and Pauline tweeted asking for volunteers to sign up to review this book and the rest is history. I love reviewing books by new authors!!
I was interested in this book due to this falling into a new genre that seems to be emerging, Christian Horror. This would be the third book I have read involving a haunted house by a Christian author I have come across. The previous two being Jess Hanna and Tom Smith. Both their books are highly recommended reading. Very impressive!
First Impression did not disappoint being the first book I have read of this author!
Pauline writes well, and her style engages the reader and keeps you coming back for more.
This a fun, young adult read spiced with a mystery man, Ben, who has some supernatural ability to see the truth of people, his pet owl and a mystery past, a haunted house with resident ghost and the demonic oppression and death of those who come into contact with it. Told in the first person narrative by the main character, Chira, this lends itself to keeping the plot focused, and the reader's sympathies always centered on Chira and it is through this first person narrative that Pauline shows the persona of a typical 16 year old, but one who is very independent and one who is a bit of a loner having only one close friend, Tasha. She even perpetuates a rumor about herself to keep others away, especially the opposite sex.
It is set against this haunting of the house and the meeting of the five students who come into contact with the ghost and their tragic demise, that Chira finds her feelings developing for Ben and it seems to be quite reciprocal. Ben learns to trust someone, maybe for the first time in his mysterious past, and Chira learns that maybe being closed off from the male of the species is not necessary anymore since the death of her father and her ambivalence towards her step father. Creeden succeeds in balancing this suspense and horror together with the young romance between these two main characters and the mystery of who Ben really is and his supernatural "curse" as he describes it, although the monks he grew up with see it as a gift from God.
Creeden delivers just enough about Ben to stimulate the reader's curiosity to know more about his past, "...since his mother roved with a band of them (gypsies), could one of them have been his father? Gypsies and monks? What a strange childhood he must have had." and his supernatural ability "...I'm a Shadow Maven. I see the truth that most people can't, like impressions or demons.", his knowledge of the demonic, "...there is only two kinds of haunting. Impressions and possessions." and "...possession... familial demons that follow around a family for generations can often haunt them or a family home....a possession haunting is not the spirit of someone who was once living. It is a demon and can only be removed through exorcism." and the relationship with his owl, Steve, who Ben says he communicates with only by the fact that they know each other so well!
Then at the end of the novel there is a further mystery surrounding Ben when he shows his ability to deduce and find clues, to what is really going on at the old school house. At this point, I was nearly certain that Ben had some connection to this haunting and its fatal events, as the killings and demise of two of the five students who saw the ghost did not happen until after he arrived as a transfer student! I also wondered if this mystery would be solved in this book or would it spill over into the next! For me that was added suspense just working this out as I continued to read!
At the end of this novel, there is openings for the next book in the series as to what happens next to Chira and Ben, the further mystery of Ben and his past, more about what is a Shadow Maven and what paranormal adventures this will get him and Chira into.
All in all, a very good, well rounded young adult novel that for me, where this is my first introduction to Creeden's writing, showcases her talent very well and for me to have become a fan.
I am looking at Sanctuary as my next Creeden read. This one has grabbed me as well.