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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen

One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
genre: Paranormal, Young Adult, Contemp.
Length: Full Length (240 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Ivy

It's taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I'm settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it's not as if Noah is anything more than a friend….

But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I've opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.

Charlotte Silver is not afraid of ghosts. She’s been studying them with her scientific team parents, debunking them as myths, since she could walk. But things seem to be changing after an incident at a “haunted” asylum over the holidays. When a seemingly possessed cameraman grabs her arm and inflicts pain with a haunting warning, things start going haywire at Charlotte’s high school, where all she wants to do is fit in. Everyone is seeing ghosts everywhere, which may or may not be the result of a spooky New Year’s Eve party where Charlotte finally made a boyfriend connection.

I don't usually read paranormal, but the blurb for One Hundred Candles caught my attention. I whizzed breathlessly through the novel in one sitting. I love first person done well and this definitely gets the job done. One Hundred Candles has a riveting point of view, smooth plotting and includes all of the usual but empathetic angst of being a teenager.

Charlotte is an easy character to relate to, and her devoted best friend, Noah, is quite the catch, even if she’s distracted by her new jock boyfriend. I liked the high school setting and really felt the bond between Charlotte and her family. Her feelings for her quirky parents are strong and respectful, and her pain is felt as she endures the challenges of watching adults try to make things work.

The strong supernatural elements in this story are chilling and unraveled at a good pace until demons are at the doorstep. Ms. Purnhagan does an excellent job making both worlds believable and logical. She is careful not to go overboard into darkness, and focuses on the goodness and light beyond the villains from other realms.

Purnhagan also has a unique writing style that stands out. Each chapter begins a new experience, that begins at an end and backtracks seamlessly. It’s quite a feat, and I stand in awe of how this worked for the storyline.

In my opinion, the book is for older teens, not tweens, as alcohol makes mention along with the sweet romantic storyline, but I think these were handled tactfully, and I appreciated that. I also liked the science woven into the fear factor. It helped alleviate some of the supernatural angles which some parents might be uncomfortable having their children read. That being said, I will recommend this to my teens, and I'm pretty protective.

With clever writing, this is a unique series that I suspect has superstar potential. I'm glad I picked it up--I feel like I'm ahead of the crowd and suspect I will be hearing a lot more about the series.

If you enjoyed Twilight or the Harry Potter series, you will love this book. I’m picking up the first volume in the series very soon!