Clarity: Solid YA paranormal mystery

Kim Harrington Clarity YA book reviewsKim Harrington Clarity YA book reviewsClarity by Kim Harrington

Clarity, the debut novel by (the confusingly named) Kim Harrington, is a solid young adult mystery with a paranormal twist. Clarity, called Clare, comes from a family of psychics. She possesses the power of psychometry, while her mother is a telepath and her brother can speak to the spirits of the dead. They live in Eastport, a picturesque Cape Cod tourist town, and do readings for the tourists. The locals see Clare as a freak.

Clare’s life is shaken up one summer when a pretty young tourist is murdered and the prime suspect is someone very close to home. It’s up to Clare to find the real culprit. This involves her psychic ability, of course, but her quick thinking and good old-fashioned nosiness are even more useful. Clarity would be a terrific mystery even if you took the paranormal aspects out.

Her two allies in her investigation are Justin, her ex-boyfriend; and Gabriel, the new guy in town. Yes, it’s a love triangle, but fear not — Harrington mostly avoids cliché in its depiction. Neither boy is a vampire or a werewolf. Neither boy is a borderline-stalker overbearing alpha male. Neither boy is Clare’s magically fated true love. They’re just normal guys, and both Justin and Gabriel click — and clash — realistically with Clare.

Clare is a delightful character. Her self-knowledge and self-possession are so much fun to read! Her peers are jerks to her, but even as it makes her sad, she knows they’re being idiots. She’s not exactly sought after by the local boys, but she realizes in her gut that she’s not actually unattractive; the boys are just responding to social pressure. Clare has a realistic level of teen angst but also an admirable sense of her own worth. The supporting characters are vivid too, both the likable and the un-.

Harrington wraps up the mystery in the end, but leaves Clare still undecided about her love life. I’m curious to see how this unfolds — but it’s the twisty mystery and the excellent characters that really hooked me and that have me looking forward to Perception.


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KELLY LASITER is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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6 comments

  1. I’m going to have to find a copy of this. This is the kind of book I was always looking for as a teenager.

  2. I’m guessing you and I are close to the same age–did you ever read the Caroline Cooney “Fog” books? It’s been so long that I can’t compare writing style, but the atmosphere struck me in a similar way. I think it’s mostly the Northeastern tourist town thing and the heroine being the weird girl in town.

  3. Don’t think I read Cooney. I was born is 1963, but I got stuck at about 32 and quit getting any older :)
    If you ever get a chance, try Wilanne Schneider Belden’s Mind Call/Mind Find/Mind Hold trilogy. I wish they would reprint those. I didn’t find them until I was in my 30′s but I still go back and re-read them.

    There was one I read way back when, that had a girl who was psychic, and she thought that when she got mad she could hurt people. Can’t remember much else, but I need to find that book again. Maybe it’s listed at Loganberry…

  4. OK, then you clearly drank from the fountain of youth at some point. ;)

    I’ll add Belden’s books to Mt. TBR.

  5. I think I found the one I was looking for. Do you remember The Girl With the Silver Eyes? The cover looks wrong, but the story sounds about right.
    I need a list of books with psychic teenage girls.

  6. Don’t remember that one–I’ll have to look it up though.

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