I enjoyed this book. This was a somewhat atmospheric story. The idea of a town full of mediums and ghosts and people who sometimes have other slightly strange abilities is intriguing. The writing was nice and flowed well. The characters weren’t too perfect. There was mystery and romance.
However, I feel like this wasn’t as emotional as it could’ve been. The book didn’t explore the emotions, didn’t delve into them enough. I knew I should be feeling things, and I wanted to, and I felt bad for the characters, but I didn’t really feel what they were feeling. Not completely lacking, just not reaching its full potential.
Also, there were things Russ kept sort of referring to, and I didn’t understand, I wanted more explanation. There’s nothing in the description or on the Goodreads or Amazon page to indicate this is part of a series or connected to another book (at the time of my review, at least), so I didn’t realize until I finished that this author has another book set in this town that takes place before this one (Prelude for Lost Souls), mostly about Russ’s best friend, but it also includes Russ’s POV. I decided to read that one before posting this, in case it explained some things. It doesn’t show or explain what Russ and Ian’s relationship was like before he died, and it doesn’t even touch upon Willow and how she did what she did (I have a lot of questions there). But it does explain some out-of-nowhere thing Ian says about a ghost that was haunting him, and it does answer why Russ stopped talking to Ian a year before he died (in case you want to know without reading that whole book, Ian and Deck didn’t get along, and Russ felt like a relationship with Ian was something that had to be all or nothing). And I got to know Russ more, got to see a bit more of what the relationship between him and Ian was like now, and got a bit of background on some events that went down. My conclusion is that this book is readable even without reading Prelude or having answers to the questions I had—I wouldn’t say I was confused, more just curious—but it really does connect to this one, and I might’ve felt more of that emotion I mentioned above if I’d read Prelude first and known Russ better.
Now, about the characters! Russ had a lot on his plate and had at this point essentially lost his mother (who abandoned him), his sorta not-really ex (who died), and his best friend (who left town). He was ambitious with ultimately good end goals but sometimes did risky things for reasons that seemed both right and wrong. Ian was confident and cocky and charismatic, but also sort of manipulative or perhaps just overwhelming, and now shady and mysterious with whatever ghostly stuff he was up to. Asher was sweet and lonely and a good person despite being trapped under his parents’ thumb. Willow is another story—not exactly likeable, and, as far as I can tell, not meant to be.
The audiobook narration was nice. I thought all three narrators (Mark Sanderlin for Asher, Alex Boyles for Russ, Chelsea Stephens for Willow) sounded natural and pleasant enough to listen to. I can’t actually recall how differently they voiced characters (to differentiate who was speaking), but I never had trouble figuring out who was speaking, so it must’ve been fine. Strange choice to use a different narrator for Russ than the person who narrated him in Prelude, but *shrug*
Overall, though I do think some things could’ve been clearer and explored more in-depth, I still enjoyed the flawed but mostly good characters, the idea of an insular little town full of mediums, and the atmospheric story.
*Note: This is connected to another book (Prelude for Lost Souls), and though I think reading that one first may make this one more enjoyable, you don’t need to read it to understand this story.*
Fans of Helene Dunbar's Prelude for Lost Souls. Anyone who likes mediums and ghosts, atmospheric books, YA, queer rep, and the "I got close to you for sneaky reasons but oops now I have real feelings" trope.