Possessed: Spooky YA

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsYA fantasy book reviews Kate Cann Rayne 1. Possessed 2. Fire and RaynePossessed by Kate Cann

The beginning of Possessed drops the reader right into the stifling life of Rayne, a young London teenager. Her relationships with her mother and boyfriend are dysfunctional, and she’s unable to find a moment’s peace amid the noise and crime of the city. Kate Cann does an excellent job of showing us Rayne’s frayed nerves and her desire to get out of her neighborhood by any means necessary. Desperate, she takes a live-in job at the country estate of Morton’s Keep.

As Rayne settles into her new life, Cann continues to excel at depicting the character’s mental state. When Rayne exults in her freedom, we feel it right along with her; when creepy events occur and Rayne is frightened, we feel that too. Rayne is not always a “nice” girl — she lies a lot, for one — but we are given plenty of reasons to sympathize with her. She makes mistakes, but they’re the kinds of mistakes we’ve all made, especially as teenagers trying to assert our independence.

Rayne uncovers a supernatural mystery and also becomes embroiled in the dramas of a mysterious clique; as the new girl in a small, insular town she inspires interest and jealousy. In a way, Possessed (though much shorter, and written earlier) reminded me of Rosemary Clement-Moore’s The Splendor Falls, which similarly deals with a new girl, a haunted estate, and the love triangles and nasty undercurrents of a rather incestuous circle of friends.

Possessed is an intriguing and entertaining novel, though the pacing is a little off. The romantic subplot moves a bit more quickly than I found realistic, though in Cann’s defense, there does turn out to be an exacerbating factor. Meanwhile, I felt that the ghost story could have been “seeded” a little more heavily in the earlier chapters of the book. We get plenty of spooky moments, but not much backstory until the very end. When the backstory does come, half of it is delivered in a lengthy villain monologue. It might have worked better to have Rayne discover the backstory in bits and pieces throughout the novel.

But while I was disappointed in this one aspect of Possessed, I did enjoy the novel and look forward to the US release of Fire and Rayne, the sequel. I’d love to know more about the sordid history of Morton’s Keep, the Morris-dancing group, and what happens next to Rayne.

Rayne — (2008-2011) Young adult. Publisher: Rayne can’t wait to start her summer job at a remote country mansion, far from the crowded, noisy London she so desperately wants to escape. But the retreat soon turns into a nightmare — the mansion is creepy, the legends of ghosts keep Rayne up at night, and she doesn’t feel safe anywhere. Can Rayne figure out why she’s so freaked — before she becomes a ghost story herself?

YA fantasy book reviews Kate Cann Rayne 1. Possessed 2. ConsumedYA fantasy book reviews Kate Cann Rayne 1. Possessed 2. Consumed


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, 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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