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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.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Review: Beyond by Graham McNamee

YA ghost story with an unusual premise

I really enjoyed this creepy read for its slow-burning tension and gradual increase in threat.

The idea is great: Jane's shadow keeps trying to hurt or kill her, dragging her into danger. Naturally, this makes people suspicious about the number of 'accidents' she has and she appears to many as suicidal or attention-seeking. Her best friend, Lexi, is the only one who understands, the only one she's told and together The Creep Sisters, as they are known, seek to figure out what is going on with her shadow, and whether it can be stopped.

As suggested above, the novel had just the right amount of creepy tension for me and I greatly enjoyed it. Those made of sterner stuff than me, drawn by the cover's tagline of "If Stephen King wrote YA..." might be left waiting for the full-on horror element, though. I wouldn't class it as horror really and am glad to see that the King reference doesn't seem to have made it onto the final cover.

A key strength is the relationship between Jane and Lexi, which is convincingly portrayed and offers nice touches - even some humour to break the tension. Jane's voice is fresh and direct. Just look at these opening lines:
I remember dying.
After I got injured my heart stopped and I flatlined.
I was done and gone. But I wasn't alone.
There was something waiting for me when I died. Something dark and cold tried to take my soul away.
How brilliant are they? This directness, the no holds barred voice, continues throughout and is a large part of the book's appeal.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this for fans of ghostly stories and of chillers.

From the Back Cover:

Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. 

Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. 

Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer...

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Published 3 Jan by Hodder
Find more info on Goodreads
My grateful thanks go to the publisher for sending a proof for review

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