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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thrilling Thursday Review: Soul Fire by Kate Harrison

Turning up the temperature in the second instalment of the Soul Beach trilogy.

Author: Kate Harrison
Title: Soul Fire
Series: This is book two of three
Genre: Thriller with fantasy/paranormal elements (YA)
Publisher: Indigo
Published: 5 July 2012

Source: review copy kindly sent by the publisher

Find it at Amazon UK or Goodreads

The blurb says...
Alice Forster regularly talks with her dead sister, Meggie, in the virtual world of Soul Beach - an online paradise where dead teenagers are held in limbo.

Alice has learned that if she can solve the mystery of someone's death in the real world, then that person is released from the Beach. Meggie needs Alice to solve her murder so she can be free, but as Alice is getting closer to discovering the murderer, the murderer is getting closer to Alice!

The second thriller in this utterly gripping trilogy for teens that explores social networking in a whole new way - Facebook for the dead!

My verdict: Tantalising and tricky; a good read for the YA audience.
It was clear following Soul Beach that the mystery of Meggie's murder is not going to be resolved until the end of the trilogy. This book narrows down the suspects, while providing compelling reasons for you to think it can't be each of these suspects. The overall effect is teasing and intriguing. Again, like the first book, there are smaller plot threads which are tied up in this novel, while the big whodunnit is left for the grand finale. We also still have no clue how Soul Beach 'works' or what its purpose is. Why are only the young dead there? For those who leave, where do they go? Is the Beach some version of Limbo or Purgatory or something else entirely?

Alice develops as a character in the course of this novel, and it's easy to be on her side and root for her as she digs through evidence and theories to try to figure out who's responsible. Her parents worry about her immersion in the virtual world, creating a further complication when her laptop is confiscated 'for her own good'. Her relationships also develop further in this instalment, although there is much more focus on mystery and threat than romance.

As with Soul Beach, our narrator is Alice, ensuring we see everything from her perspective and are emotionally tied to her. This is broken only occasionally, with a passage from the murderer's point of view, showing us how much danger Alice is in as the murderer seems obsessed with her as well as Meggie. This is a tense read, and the fire theme is a good match for this level of intensity and potential danger.

Overall, I'd recommend this series and can't wait to see where it all ends up in the final book. I'm hoping that Soul Beach itself will give up its mysteries as well as the crime angle.

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