The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
Genre: YA Paranormal/Thriller
Publisher: Weinstein Books
Publication Date: March 24th, 2015
Goodreads Rating: 4.03 stars
“Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just … creepy.
In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.”
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I didn’t really go into it with any expectations, which seemed to be the way to go! I quickly found that it had more of a contemporary feel, which surprised me. I’m not much of a contemporary reader, but I got sucked into this book more and more as Sunshine’s character started to come into focus. The dialogue and writing is slightly choppy, but within the first chapter or two, the writing gets better and you adjust to Sunshine’s thought process. She was not a hard character to relate to at all! In order to put my thoughts into more organized sections, I’m giving you five reasons I think you should read this book:
1. I love Sunshine.
I’m honestly believe you all will love her too. I just felt like I had this insane connection to Sunshine and I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was me in character form. From her curly hair, quirky personality, and outsider feel, down to her belief in ghosts and inability to ever get anyone to believe what she has experienced! Seriously, she’s my twin, clone, whatever you want to call her, and I love her so, so much. I seriously think if you’re as much of a book nerd as me, you will love her as much as I do. This is especially true if you’re a fiend for ghost stories and the paranormal!!!
2. Paige built another “world” of the paranormal.
This was SO awesome. I can’t give you too much without giving away the book, but Paige basically took the hauntings and ghosts that everyone has heard before and found a way to explain them. She took the ghosts and built layers of their world and the world of the paranormal brick by brick. When sunshine learned more about the paranormal world, you learned more about the paranormal world, and it was FASCINATING! I will tell you, most of the learning about this world will probably come in book 2 of this series which is set to come out in 2016. There will also be a book 3! It’s going to be a trilogy!! The next book will assumingly be about her exploring the paranormal world that Paige has created and her role in it… which is just plain AWESOME!!! I’m totally down for exploring ghost world.
3. It wasn’t so creepy that it kept me from sleeping every night.
I was a little wary of starting to read this book when I already knew that I was short on sleep and would be for the next month or so. I took precautions to never read this book at night. However, this book wasn’t all that scary. I was actually more intrigued than anything! It was fascinating to learn about Paige/Sunshine’s world of demons, ghosts, and exorcisms! I loved that she built this entire other world out of known paranormal experiences. I wanted to know so much more about this world and I’m impatiently waiting for the sequel to let me in!
4. There was a lot of sarcasm and some humor to offset the scary parts!
The way this book was written, it had a generally darker feel to it, but it wasn’t all gore, ghosts, and thrills. It was just Sunshine, living her regular life and trying to make it through a haunting. She was sarcastic, funny, and a seemingly normal teenager otherwise! It helped to take my mind of the scary parts where she was being haunted by demons and things that go bump in the night.
5. It reads more like a mystery.
I picked this book up thinking it was going to be more like a thriller, but I guess because I’m used to ghost stories, it read more like a mystery to me. Now, granted, after I read certain parts, I’d still see some dark shadows and hear some bumps in the night and freak out, running to my room. However, this book really read more like a contemporary mystery with paranormal parts to it. It touched on the paranormal and fantastical elements, especially towards the end, because it’s setting the plot line up for more of her role in the paranormal world to take place in the next few books. There were plenty of ghosts and hauntings in it to keep my mind occupied, but all of the information about this world was new to both myself and Sunshine. She was digging up all of this information to try and solve her problem. As she was figuring it all out, so were you. It was just a matter of trying to fit all the pieces together at the end. In essence, it was definitely a mystery. Everything comes together in the end and you have the final fight to end all, like literature should do. However, be warned, this book does end on a little bit of a cliffy!!
The one thing I didn’t like is something that I can’t tell you. It’s also the one thing that is making me not give this book 5 stars. I just have to say that there was something at the end of this story where I kind of sat there, tilted my head, and went… “What?… Why???… I mean, I get why, but I feel like that just happened to skip to the good part… I feel like there should be more of a solution or fight here? Or maybe an explanation?” It just felt like it was put in there for no apparent reason other than as a solution to the problem at hand. I am holding on to that part, hoping that it is explained more in the sequel, because I’d really like to understand why and how that happened!!!
So, all in all, would I recommend this book? YES! I think if you’re willing to give the paranormal a try, this would be a great book for both YA contemporary and fantasy readers to dive into. It’s short, fun, and a little bit of a thrill ride! It’s not too terrifying while still being focused on the paranormal just enough to keep you interested. The mystery and contemporary feel to it keep you reading voraciously through the pages while the small fantastical elements and the paranormal world keep you fascinated and intrigued. I think this book is definitely worth a shot because it appeals to so many different readers! Give it a try! What’s there to lose!! I will say, if you are easily scared and plan to actually sleep at night, I advise you to only read this book during the day. 😉
Congratulations Paige McKenzie on a great debut novel and a wonderful youtube series, which you can find HERE. Your YouTube channel is completely terrifying, by the way! If any readers want a real scare and possibly a laugh (because Paige is just adorable), go check out her YouTube videos at the link above!
Overall: 4.5 stars!!
Also, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York readers, Paige McKenzie will be at the Princeton, NJ Barnes and Noble on Wednesday, June 3rd!! Go see her! She’s a doll! =) Find the event by clicking here!
P.S. If you’re interested in this book, keep an eye out for an upcoming giveaway! Follow my twitter (@YAFantasyFan) for the announcement!