Spirit Eyes by Lynn Hones

Spirit Eyes by Lynn Hones
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (153 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

A young child with psychic ability, ghosts who want the truth known, ghosts who want the truth buried-it all adds up to the Perfect Spiritual Storm.

Pearl, a happy, vivacious youngster adopted from China, is endowed with a gift for seeing other worldly spirits. Not happy with this power, she tries to understand the ghosts following her, instructing her, and even threatening her. Things go from bad to worse when she sees a spirit with a funny spider on its arm. Alarmed, her mother, Ruth, has her draw the spider, which is actually a Swastika.

How will Pearl and her mother fight the forces of good and evil? Will the frightening truths about their city, their home, their friends, and even their own family unite them, or create chasms that can never be repaired?

The dead are full of secrets, but not all of them are willing to talk. Yet.

Adoption papers rarely tell you everything about a child’s past. As the Caucasian parents of two transracial adoptees, Ruth and Paul can’t exactly hide their daughters’ origins. What I found really interesting was how Pearl’s history and racial identity were woven into her current circumstances. The author makes several connections between the two that I never saw coming, and it was rewarding to follow her logic as she snaps the pieces of her narrative together.

There were a few instances in which I wished more time would have been spent connecting certain plot points. The inclusion of such a large cast of characters for what is a fairly short full length novel occasionally results in backstories that are hastily sketched out. In most cases I was able to infer the rest of their stories based on how particular characters acted later on, but it would have been nice to have my hunches officially confirmed or denied in a few cases.

Pearl is eight when this story takes place, but due to the violent manners in which some of the spirits she meets have died I am recommending it for high school students on up. While nothing is described in particularly gruesome terms there are extremely emotionally intense scenes involving the lives and deaths of these spirits. These scenes are quite well written, but due to the dark themes they introduce as well as the inclusion of certain tropes from the horror genre I’m not comfortable recommending this book to younger audiences.

What I appreciate most about this tale is how vividly the author describes the world in which Pearl and her family live. The tranquility of the rural and suburban settings provides a thin veneer of respectability for a family slowly coming apart at the seams. Ghost stories work best when the reader honestly believes that the characters he or she have grown to care about are in terrible danger, and Ms. Hones did a great job at keeping me on my toes from beginning to end.

Spirit Eyes is a heart-pounding ghost story that I highly recommend to adult and teen readers alike.

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