See my review for Book One here
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Book Two
Written by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel
Published April 26th 2016
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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Sunshine's Luiseach powers have been fully awakened. For months now, Sunshine has felt spirits everywhere. She hears their voices, feels their emotions... It's intense and sometimes overwhelming. She tries to ignore them, but it's impossible. Hoping to get her powers under control (and hoping for answers to her never ending questions) she agrees to start training with her Luiseach mentor, leaving her family, and her friend Nolan, behind.But Sunshine's mentor doesn't understand her attachment to the humans in her life, and she can't forgive his abandonment of her so many years ago. The only thing getting Sunshine through the terrifying and creepy training is her new, distractingly attractive, friend, another young Luiseach.Though Sunshine's mentor is reluctant to answer her many questions, she finally learns the truth about her lineage, as well as the rift that threatens the future of Luiseach and the human race... And the crucial part she has to play in repairing it.
We also see Sunshine taken away from her mother to be cared for and trained, leaving Nolan behind. I enjoyed the lack of romance, not that Nolan and Sunshine are officially together as she cannot touch him without experiencing excruciating pain. But the separation element allowed Sunshine to grow as a character and also establish why she was abandoned as a newborn child.
Where The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was all about establishing Sunshine as a character and learning about her abilities. Sunshine is a girl who is still unsure of herself, often lacking in confidence but while making her relatable despite her abilities. It also felt like a more mature installment in the series, which I really enjoyed. I missed Nolan's character, as he is absent from the main storyline but readers still see glimpses of their separation through Sunshine's dreamscape, a new development with her abilities.
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl series is captivating, entertaining and has invigorated the young adult paranormal genre. With the emphasis on Sunshine, her place in the world and not reliant on romance, it's a breath of fresh air. The Awakening of Sunshine Girl is often brutal and fierce, introducing a horror type suspense to the young and young at heart. Really enjoyed it.
The Final Verdict
May contain spoilers for book one. Check out my review here
Written by Derek Landy
Published April 8th 2016
Thanks to Harper Collins Australia
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Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell, five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill, a small town with a big secret, a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.And that night is coming.
Milo and Amber haven't had the best working relationship, seeing he was firstly employed to ensure her safety. Now the two have fallen into an awkward partnership under the guise of a being on a road trip with her Uncle. But along their journey, their relationship begins to change, the usually gruff and stoic Milo seeming more at ease with his teen companion. And Amber could really use a friend.
The town of Desolation Hill reminds me of Pleasantville, a facade of perfection but under the surface lies a sinister secret and Amber and Milo aren't the only tourists in town on the eve of the pending festival. It was a strange mix of lightheartedness and horror, and while the main storyline kept me intrigued, the new characters introduced were a little too many and left me unable to connect with the storyline. The introduction of Kelly and her group of van driving investigators of the strange and paranormal were akin to the Scooby Gang, dog included. In among the death and destruction, it was a bit too jovial and as a reader, it felt a little awkward and forced.
I can understand why Amber is lacking in self confidence, but the emphasis placed upon how plain and ordinary she is as a human and how extraordinarily beautiful she is in demon form still makes my eye twitch. The romance was welcomed in that regard as Amber's love interest could see her human beauty, but I had wished that she wouldn't have needed that potential romance to feel validated.
There's also a reappearance of a past character that seems to make little sense. Appearing with little fanfare and disappearing just as quickly in a blink and you'll miss it series of moments. I'm hoping readers will learn more about why he's hanging on, in an incredibly creepy form that's at odds with his original character.
I loved Demon Road, the humour, the adventure and the horror elements blended seamlessly to create a wonderfully entertaining storyline and although I did enjoy Desolation overall, it felt a little too busy with the introduction of too many new characters. I hope the third series installment will return to the magic that was Demon Road, with Amber's storyline at the forefront once again rather than trying to be a little too funny and falling flat.
The Final Verdict