The Haunted is the second book in Jessica Verday’s series The Hollow. The first book centered on 17 year-old Abbey Browning’s life in Sleepy Hollow, New York following the death of her best friend, Kristen. In the year since Kristen’s death she has mourned, suffered terrible depression and anguish, and yet, through it all, Abbey has found love with Caspian Vander; a handsome and charismatic man who she discovered in the cemetery. This book continues in direction that the first one began, illuminating the life of a pretty normal teen and her not-so-normal love.
* Spoilers ahead for those who have not read book one, The Hollow *
Abbey has been dealt a crushing blow in life. Not only dd her best friend mysteriously die, but her impassioned love interest with Caspian has been crushed by one brutal revelation – that he died over a few years previously and is, in fact, a ghost. She was also stunned to discover that her friends Nikolas and Katy are not only dead but are also the inspirations for Washington Irving’s iconic story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. These realizations forced Abbey to confront the possibility that she might be mentally unstable and she sought professional help to deal with her own demons.
Now, months later, she has been brought back to Sleepy Hollow from her great Aunt’s farm to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Leaving school suddenly can cause a lot of rifts and Abbey has to deal with the ramifications of her choices. Now, faced with a summer of science tutorials with Ben, she settles into a pattern of life that includes studying and working at her Uncle’s ice cream parlour. But it’s not until the past comes back to haunt her that she learns to understand that her previous visions, and the ghostly figures attached, may not be a figment of her imagination after all.
This book is very similar to its predecessor in tone and in storytelling. As many of you know, I was split on whether I liked The Hollow. I feel exactly the same about this book. On some level it is right up my alley. It has a paranormal edge to it that I find perfect for my mood at this point in time. The story is light and fun, the characters likable enough to suit.
However, once again, there is a certain suspension of plot that I don’t know how to feel about. It’s not that there isn’t a plot in this book, per se. There is certainly more to it than The Hollow. But, once again, it’s completely character driven and, once again, it takes a while for anything to happen. When something does happen the events are almost over before they have begun. This sort of narrative is going to drive some readers to annoyance. It drove me there once in a while, though I couldn’t help but keep going.
To admit that Abbey has grown on me is not really a truth. I still find her hapless sense-of-self annoying. I find her spoiled and immature and, if possible, she’s actually regressing into more childlike behaviours in this book. She’s whiny and she’s entitled and she has her moments where I want to smack her. But she can be tender and big-hearted, but mostly only when it comes to Caspian. Caspian makes for a good counterpoint to her as he is the more reserved of the two. Five years ago I probably would have adored him. Now I feel like he is one of the many forgettable book boyfriends who will pass through the paranormal romance world fairly forgotten. I like him now but will he have made an impact on me a year or two from now? This I cannot say.
But I keep reading these, so clearly they are hitting a button right now. I won’t say that they are remarkable because they are not. I can’t even say anything about what else happens in the book without fear of spoiling the (very little) plot that there is. They are fun and airy romance novels with a light and safe paranormal taste to them. They are an appetizer in the wider world of the genre, something to snack on when you don’t want the deeper and more satisfying world of another writer. And that is pretty much all that they could ever hope to be.
3 out of 5 stars.
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