Thursday, May 16, 2019

ARC Review: The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Title: The Haunted
Author: Danielle Vega
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304
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From Danielle Vega, YA’s answer to Stephen King, comes a new paranormal novel about dark family secrets, deep-seated vengeance, and the horrifying truth that evil often lurks in the unlikeliest of places.

Hendricks Becker-O’Malley is new in town, and she’s bringing baggage with her. With a dark and wild past, Hendricks doesn’t think the small town her parents moved her to has much to offer her in terms of excitement. She plans on laying low, but when she’s suddenly welcomed into the popular crowd at school, things don’t go as expected.

Hendricks learns from her new friends that the fixer-upper her parents are so excited about is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. Hendricks doesn’t believe it. Until she’s forced to. Blood-curdling screams erupt from the basement, her little brother wakes up covered in scratches, and something, or someone pushes her dad down the stairs. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.

I am a huge fan of The Merciless series! I read them as they were released and really enjoyed every one. I was constantly impressed with Vega's ability to write truly scary horror novels for a YA audience and was excited to pick up The Haunted. I was able to trade for a copy with a friend and was eager to dive into this new, hopefully terrifying story.

This book revolves around Hendricks and her family after a move to a small town where they buy an old house with a bad reputation. The house the family chooses to renovate has a history of murder and suicide and is rumored to be haunted, so of course strange things start happening almost immediately after the family moves in. Unfortunately, that's almost the extent of the horror in this "horror" novel.

While Hendricks is okay as a character, I just got way more information about her than I ever would have needed. I don't need tons of character development, romance, or backstory in my horror novels, but this one was primarily about a girl's experience as a student at a new high school than it was about a haunted house. This book had a love triangle, high school clique drama, a crazy ex boyfriend, and a handful of creepy scenes. As much as I hate YA contemporary romance, that's really what I got with this new Vega book and I am disappointed.

The horror aspects of the book were pretty well done, but they were way too few and far between. I loved The Merciless for genuinely creeping me out, and there were a couple of creepy scenes in The Haunted, but not nearly enough to warrant the title. I did really enjoy the mystery of the house and why it was haunted, though. The ghosts had interesting stories and the resolution was satisfying.

If you're like me, looking for a super scary horror book, this isn't going to be it. If, however, you're new to YA or prefer more tame spookiness in a book that mainly focuses on the YA contemporary romance aspects of the story, you'll probably love this! It was an okay story, but ultimately wasn't what I was hoping for. I recently picked up Survive the Night by the same author and I'm really hoping that's more my speed!