2020 has not been a good year for me and books. I consumed so many brilliant books last year, both in print and audible format but I find it very difficult at the moment to concentrate on anything. That would explain why I've given up more books than I've completed this year and in times like this I look to YALSA's Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list.
Danielle Vega's The Haunted caught my eye straight away. It's a young adult novel about a teen who escapes a traumatic experience in Philly and moves to Drearford, upstate New York with her family. They move into the derelict Steele House which her property-flipping parents see as a chance to renovate and call home. The only problem is that this is a house that has no intention of becoming a home.
There are many stories woven together in The Haunted, including what happened in the house, what happened after that and what happened to our protagonist Hendricks in Philly. There is also a killer twist which I liked a lot, even though I guessed it very early in the book.
In fact, I realise that there wasn't much in The Haunted that was unique or original but it grabbed my attention at a time when I very much needed a book to do that and it was very, very scary. Also, I'd be over the moon if I watched a horror film with this much plot. There were some problems with continuity and timing, for instance talk of habits and routines when by my calculations, the whole book took place in three weeks and there was also an entirely unnecessary love triangle.
But honestly? I enjoyed The Haunted a lot and couldn't put it down, which is a million miles away from the eight or so books I've given up on this year. I also enjoyed the exploration of themes such as bullying, gaslighting and PTSD in the novel.
For breaking my reader's-block and scaring the life out of me, I give The Haunted an excellent four out of five stars. I'd recommend it to fans of psychological and paranormal horror and anyone seeking a good ghost story to distract them from the current state of the world.