More Mystery than Ghost Story: The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

dead and buried

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

Source: ARC from publisher

Published: January 1st 2013 by Scholastic Point

Synopsis: 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?

My thoughts: I enjoy a good ghost story. I liked to get scared out of my wits, to have to leave the door open and the light on just to to the bathroom in the middle of the night (which may be TMI, but I did that for a month after seeing The Grudge when Mister BS and I first lived together during college). Though I  found this an intriguing and well-plotted mystery, it was not creepy enough to prevent a good night’s sleep after I finished it rather late one night earlier this week.

Jade knows that her family’s new house in the good suburb with the good school is too good to be true, even if it’s what she’s wanted all her life. No spoiler here: it’s a ghost. But not just any ghost, the ghost of a girl who died recently and is just her age (no wonder everyone at school seemed to be whispering about her). And this girl isn’t any girl, but the (former) most popular girl in school. She fell to her death at the bottom of her hardwood floor stairs—though rumor had it, she was pushed, and by none other than her boyfriend, the now ostracized boy with the pretty eyes.

This is part mean girl story, part murder mystery, part ghost story, with just a dash of romance and family drama. A lot of the characters felt familiar—the nerdy friend, the misunderstood jock, the outsider boy, the mean girl, the stepmother—but I wasn’t annoyed by it, because I liked Jade well enough.  Jade was a sympathetic narrator who wanted to protect her brother, be loved and accepted by her father, and stay connected to her own mother’s memory, even though her father had remarried after she passed away. Integral to her identity and relevant to the story was her collection of gemstones, left to her by her mother. I liked how these were used in the story and to develop Jade’s character, not to mention learning about the uses of qualities the stones were said to possess. The plot kept me interested, even if it wasn’t anything too daring or unexpected.

This didn’t blow me away by any means, but it was a quick, engrossing read I will have no problem recommending to fans of contemporary mysteries or those who like a dash of the paranormal in their novels. It was a nice blend of the two genres. I’d recommend it to fans of Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, another new release I reviewed here, or The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, another contemporary mystery with ghosts I recently read (review forthcoming). Yovanoff writes the most elegantly, making her ghost story my favorite, and Maureen Johnson is for those who like a bit of sly humor worked in (and an explanation for the hows and whys of ghosts). This title is sort of an average of them, and will appeal to fans of both.

Second Opinions:

Bewitched Bookworms: “The murder mystery combined with the ghost story was thrilling, creepy and very suspenseful! I was hooked to the pages desperately wanting to know who was the murderer.”

Scott Reads It: “The plot was extremely slow paced and I think certain scenes were unnecessary. Another thing that bothered me about the plot was the ghost scenes, or rather lack of. There was really only one awesome ghost scene and I wish it went on longer. Another thing was that The Dead and Buried wasn’t scary at all and I expected to be scared even a bit.”

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