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.