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all hearthfires & holocausts

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Wraith - Angel Lawson 3.5 stars.I picked up Wraith thinking I was in for a creepy story about a girl driven to madness by the haunting presence of ghosts. And while that was true in a sense, the overall story was much different than I expected. And I kind of loved that. Jane Watts is an outcast at her new school, all because she got into a very public fight with her best friend, Evan. Normally, that kind of public display would blow over in just a couple days, except in this case, Evan’s dead, and no one can see him but Jane. Her outburst in the hall earns her a permanent Freak label, as far as her classmates are concerned. But Jane’s okay with that. Mostly. She has Evan, after all. The sweet, protective ghost who lives in her room, and seems to want nothing more than to be her friend. She’s even learned to control her reactions to him when he visits her in class. Despite being a complete pariah, Jane’s settling into her new anonymity at her school.That is, until Connor shows up.“He looked in my direction, but not at me--not exactly. His eyes were glued right behind me. To the seat I knew was technically empty, the seat of my best friend and current tormentor.” Back from a recent stint in juvie--or so the rumors say--Connor is everything Jane doesn’t need. A cocky bad boy who may or may not be a delinquent... and oh yeah, he can see Evan too. Connor warns Jane that Evan is there for a reason; he needs something from her before he can finally be at rest.Jane is torn between wanting to keep her best friend, and the need to help him. Together, she and Connor try to uncover the secrets of Evan’s past, and in the process put themselves in Evan’s murderer’s crosshairs. Wraith was less creepy than I envisioned after reading the summary, but I found I didn’t miss the shivers. (I’m kind of a wimp, I’ll be honest.) Though the story was somewhat straightforward and predictable, it was an interesting twist on the usual paranormal. I loved the growth Jane demonstrated throughout the story; she begins as a defensive social outcast, completely dependent on her secret best friend, to someone determined and confident, and open to making new friends. Lawson really shines in her character development with both Jane and Connor. And I especially loved that there was no love triangle set up between Jane, Connor, and Evan. Wraith is a solidly entertaining paranormal, with humor, mystery, and heart. This was Angel Lawson’s debut novel. Its sequel, Shadow Bound, was released in December, and is only $3.99 on Kindle and Nook.