When Emma Vaile’s parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip, she’s left all alone in her creepy old house. But her brother’s very cute best friend, Bennett Stern—Emma’s knight in J. Crew armor—arrives unexpectedly to whisk her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls at an old-fashioned private school. She quickly finds friends in the popular legacy crowd at Thatcher and spends her free time crushing on Bennett. But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone have gotten worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher that she can’t explain—it’s as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Finally, Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett brought Emma to Thatcher to protect her, but now he needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.
What I thought
Before getting this book for review, I hadn’t heard of it but as soon as I read the synopsis, I picked it up and started reading right away.
Emma, the main character, was one that I immediately felt sorry for. Her parents have run off travelling somewhere leaving Emma to look after the family business, go to school and generally cope all on her own. When the only staff member (and her best friends’ mother) quits on the spot, Emma is left to run the shop full of creepy artefacts. After social services are told that she is all alone, Emma’s whole life is turned upside down. Either she finds her parents, goes into care for a while or has someone else look after her while her parents are away. As this is only the very beginning of the book, Emma has to go through a hell of a lot before anything else really happens. If my parents just left without letting me know anything I would be extremely angry and upset with them.
When Emma’s knight in shining armour, Bennett, comes to save her, I thought things would finally get better but they only get worse. Shipped off to Bennett’s family home and a new private school, Emma is also told she is a ghostkeeper. After spending time in an institute as a child because of her visions, Emma always thought she was a little crazy but now she doesn’t know which she prefers. Having a new school to go to, new friends and a new purpose in life makes Emma’s life even more insane than it was before and I loved her for dealing with everything so well. This is a very strong, outspoken and brave main character although her emotions and feelings are shown really well at the same time.
The secondary characters were just as good. Bennett is the guy who attempts to teach Emma about what she really is although he isn’t around much. As Emma has had a bit of a thing for him since she was younger, there is some nice tension between the two which gave some great dialogue. The friends that Emma makes at her new school, Thatcher, were all very different but equally entertaining. Coby is the popular jock who all the girls seem to love, Harry is the joker of the group and Sara is the best friend. I loved all of these characters as they brought something different to the story next to the biggest theme of ghosts.
The ghost aspect is what really makes this book so fantastic though. I loved the whole idea of ghostkeepers and what they could do. Emma has a lot to learn in such a short space of time. The ghosts in Emma’s new home were great characters and I loved them all. They helped to show a softer side to Emma and really explained the whole theory behind the ghosts in this story. As the whole series will focus of Emma’s abilities and the world of ghosts, not everything was explained in this first book and there was a lot of unanswered questions but I didn’t mind this at all. The fact that there was a lot I didn’t get to find out made me want the second book immediately so I could find out what was going to happen next and how the ghost world would be expanded.
Lee Nichols’ writing style is highly addictive and I was hooked from the very first page. This series is so unlike any other I have ever read so I was thankful for the breath of fresh air Nichols forces into the YA genre. Ghosts are new and interesting and done with a very unique history behind them. Deception has a little something for everyone too. There is a lot of mystery, excitement and some romance too which was a really nice mix for me. This is a great start to a series and it promises to get even better as it continues!