Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

Title: The Dead and Buried
Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Point
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Pages: 304 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

The Dead And BuriedA haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes...

But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. 

Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house... is haunted. 

Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. 

But is one of them a murderer?


In my humble opinion, every day is a good day for a ghost story. Murder mysteries are fine too, but ghost stories are the best. Harrington's novel promised both of them and reeled me in like the fish who couldn't resist the bait on the hook. I was in the mood for something creepy this holiday season and Harrington delivered a slightly flawed but still very readable novel. I'd definitely read it again!

Jade's gemstone obsession, the reason behind it, and how it's a part of who she is makes her stand out as a character when other parts of her personality blend in a little more. (Besides, our shared gemstone hobby gives me a soft spot for her.) The romance she has with Donovan isn't the most well-supported-by-the-text in the world, but it's rather sweet and enjoyable.

Now that I think about it, one of the best qualities of The Dead and Buried may be how unoffensive it is. All the other female characters seem to start out as negative stereotypes, but by the end of the novel, they all get a little depth to show they aren't quite as bad as they first appear to be--even Kayla herself, who is so impossibly irredeemable that it actually hurts. Jade's stepmother Marie may have had the worst start of all, but by novel's end, we understand why she treated Jade like she did. There simply isn't much to hate the novel for. Sad thing to compliment a novel on its lack of offensiveness, huh? Such are the times and the mood recent readings put me in.

Or maybe the shades of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier take the prize for best quality. I have never read the novel myself but the idea behind it has been a fascination of mine since the end of middle school and before I die, I'll read it. The Dead and Buried is NOT a retelling of the novel, but there are more than a few parallels between them and that lampshade is hung within the text itself through a class discussion of Rebecca. The way Harrington wove that in isn't exactly subtle and masterful, but that hardly makes it any less enjoyable.

Speaking of a lack of subtlety, there's one point in the novel where the reader will think how one character is framed is either transparent plotting or a poorly done red herring. Once it becomes clear which one the framing is, figuring out the killer is easy from there. Still, up until that point, I was a little stumped; because I've seen exactly how badly someone can plot a mystery, it was impossible to be sure whether or not Harrington was one of those writers who couldn't do it. In a way, she benefits from the failings of other writers. Maybe a little mean, but also very true.

Harrington's Clarity novels have always tempted me (mostly because the jacket copy of the second book basically screamed that it would be right up my alley), but complaints about the series from a number of friends made me unsure I wanted to read them. I like the way Harrington writes, so maybe I'll give the series a shot after all.

3.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Delusion by Laura J. Sullivan