Deception (Haunting Emma 1), by Lee Nichols
Release Date: June 2010
Received: Library book
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
After her parents go missing, Emma is shipped off to stay with her new guardian, super cute but aloof and enigmatic Bennet. While attempting to figure out the whereabouts of her parents, traverse the social obstacle course of her new school, and try to catch Bennet's eye, Emma also struggles with visions. Fearing she is losing her mind, Emma eventually confesses she is seeing dead people. This revelation opens the door to the world of ghostkeeping, a world Emma soon learns she plays a powerful part in but has been purposely kept out of due to the nature of her abilities. Thrust into this world, Emma must battle a ghost who is raising an army of deadly wraiths and systematically murdering ghostkeepers. Adding further intrigue to the tale are the mysteries surrounding Emma's family, as well as the curious resemblance in image, name, and power Emma shares with one of her ancestors.
I loved this book! I wasn't sure at first how I was going to like it, especially given the far-fetched set up and depressing state of affairs Emma finds herself in at the beginning of the book. That all changed once Emma relocated and begins seeing ghosts, and all of my reservations were completely blown away once Emma's abilities are revealed. The mysteries of the book are all laid out in a way designed to keep you reading, with a bunch of clues and questions dropped all over and just enough answers given to keep you engaged and dying to find out more.
While I really enjoyed all of the mysteries, I'm especially intrigued by the story surrounding Emma's ancestor and how she and Emma are connected. I have to confess, though the mystery itself is really very good, part of my interest here stems solely from a certain ghost referred to through most of the story as the handsome Rake. He's handsome, devilish, charming, tragic, and he takes a protector/mentor role toward Emma. Alas, he is not her love interest (though she does have several, living, love interests).
Her love interests are actually my biggest complaint (but, really, "big" here is really very small). Two seem like good characters, but they don't work with Emma. The third, well, I had a hard time liking him and I'm a little frustrated that Emma does like him as much as she does. I felt vindicated at the end (It was a very "HA! Good, I knew it!" moment), though I think, ultimately, things will work out in the later books with secrets being revealed and I'll come around and grin the stupid "Yay they got together!" grin when it's all said and done.
The mysteries are really good in this book, but what made it a cut above for me were the characters. All of the good ghosts are awesome and made me smile at my book. Emma is super funny and had me laughing out loud at her inner commentary on her situations. Then the bad guys, wow, they were so creepy. I made the mistake of reading a scene where a wraith was described in deliciously scary detail, and then I was faced with the dilemma of either reading way past my bedtime so that wasn't the last scene I read before sleeping, or sleeping with the lights on like a huge dork. So I was smiling at my book, laughing at my book, and checking my closet for monsters because of my book. I probably looked like a loon, but man did I have fun reading Deception!
This is the first book in a series, and there are enough loose ends and promised action that I'm going crazy now without the sequel. If it isn't obvious by now, I highly recommend Deception, though you shouldn't even be reading my review by this point because you should already be busy trying to get your hands on a copy.
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