Title: Deception: A Haunting Emma Novel
Author: Lee Nichols
May Contain Spoilers
When Emma Vaile’s parents leave on mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. Throw some parties, get a tattoo (or maybe just a piercing), and enjoy the first few weeks of her junior year. Then her best friend stops talking to her, the cops crash her party, and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian—her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern—and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England.
After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular legacy crowd. But she can’t shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories of Thatcher she can’t explain, as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Emma doesn’t trust anyone anymore—except maybe Bennett. But he’s about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life.
Though I thought that Deception got off to a slow start, I was quickly hooked. Emma is a strong character who is going through a hard time. Her parents have disappeared, her best friend won’t even return her emails, and even her brother has abandoned her. When Natalie, her new friend, reports to social services that Emma is living alone, it doesn’t look like things can get any worse. Then Bennett Stern reenters her life, and she finds out that things can get worse. Much, much worse.
After Bennett whisks her away from her home in San Francisco to his family home in New England, Emma has a lot to get used to. First, she is having horrifying nightmares from her childhood, when she was abducted by a scary man with a knife, and then she starts seeing things. Ghostly things. When she learns that she’s a ghostkeeper, she feels as though her parents have betrayed her. They had her committed as a child to suppress her abilities, instead of nurturing them and making her aware of what she can do. Now she is at a very distinct and deadly disadvantage, as she is caught up in a dangerous game that she doesn’t understand.
Once Emma started seeing ghosts, the book took off for me. She is one tough cookie, and her resourcefulness quickly won me over. She is rejected by everyone she cares about, and when Bennett strolls back into her life, her crush on him is reawakened. Too bad he disappears for days at a time, leaving her alone and defenseless in a strange new place. Nothing is working out like it’s supposed to, and to make matters worse, she thinks she’s going insane because she keeps having flashbacks into someone else’s life.
I felt a connection with Emma, and instantly sympathized with her. She is isolated from everyone she loves just when she needs their support the most. She doesn’t whine, she doesn’t complain, and while she may occasionally feel sorry for herself, she quickly finds the gumption to solve all of the unsettling mysteries surrounding her. She finds strength in her adversity, and that is what I liked the best about her. She isn’t a quitter, even when events spiral quickly and frighteningly out of control.
Despite the slow start, Deception quickly turned into a book that I couldn’t put down. The characters grew on me, and the suspense kept me turning the pages. What don’t I like? The wait for the sequel!
Review copy provided by publisher