Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Notes From Ghost Town: A Paranormal Murder-Mystery



Notes From Ghost Town
Author Kate Ellison
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From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there? With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.


Review:  Love triangles, flaky friends, distracted parents, mental illness and murder. Notes From Ghost Town has it all, so what's not to love? Although this book is a murder-mystery, it addresses the stigmas, social attitudes, paranoia and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness. From Medusa (character in the book) to Olivia's mother, to her own struggles with hereditary possibilities, the impact, effects and treatment of the mentally ill are portrayed, not in some grandiose call to action, but rather depicted in an every day town, in an every day setting. 

However, it gets even more complicated by the fact that Olivia is sensitive to the paranormal, specifically, her dead friend Lucas. Often intuitives are mistaken for being mentally ill or misdiagnosed and vice versa. The stress of this complex burden is communicated effectively through the development of the story, and it is easy to see why Olivia struggles with trusting anyone with what is happening. In a way, the fact that she can't talk or confide in those she loves, is more maddening than what is actually occurring.  

The only drawback is the shift that occurs after the climax. The conclusion comes so darn fast and although explained, misses the opportunity to relay some important detailing following the murder-mystery build up. When all is revealed, a jump in time occurs. It's a bit of the brushing the dirt from the hands and moving on approach. I got a 'problem-solved, next!' kind of feeling. There is a tidy wrap up concerning Olivia's relationship with the family, but the suspense portion of the story (double murder-mystery and wrongful imprisonment) is over, abruptly. All is well in the end, which given the complexity of the novel up until this point, left me a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, I liked the overall story and was drawn in to the sort of damaged, but mostly happily-ever-after ending. 
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*ARC provided by EgmontUSA courtesy of NetGalley

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