Author: Lee Nichols
Haunting Emma #1
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Young Adult – Teen
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 310
Release Date: 5th September 2011 (UK) | June 2010 (US)
Goodreads | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
Received for review from Bloomsbury.

First sentence:
I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe.

First off, I have to say that when this book first arrived, I read the blurb, looked at the cover and thought, “meh, not really my thing”, but I fancied an easy read so I picked it up, as it was after all sent for review. The reason I wasn’t initially all that interested is that I’ve been getting tired of going into young adult paranormal novels with great expectations only to be disappointed. If Bloomsbury hadn’t sent a copy over, I wouldn’t have read Deception at all. So I have to say a massive thank you to them else I never would have read this little gem, and now I can’t wait to pick up its’ sequel, Betrayal. So maybe I shouldn’t go around judging books by their covers after all!

Deception is written from the first-person perspective of Emma Vaile, a 16 year old girl whose parents go on holiday and they don’t come back. Living alone and abandoned by her best friend, Emma ends up taken to a halfway house and threatened with foster care, it’s then that she finds herself on a plane to Boston with her new guardian, Bennett Stern, the hot ex-friend of her brother’s. More and more she experiences strange goings on and more questions she needs to ask. She’s seeing people who can’t possibly be there, ghosts, experiencing visions of what seem to be a past life, and seeing nightmares, and it’s all about to unravel around her, revealing secrets she could never have imagined.

It doesn’t sound like anything special, at least it didn’t to me, but there’s the trouble. It is. It wasn’t the story that grabbed me so much, at least initially, but the way in which it was written. It’s a very quick, easy read, which is sometimes just what you need. Yet even so, Nichols has managed to give her characters depth. Just when you think you have a grasp of a character’s personality and what they’re upto, they will twist around and surprise you. Even now I don’t know the full extent of every single character. It’s fantastic because you don’t know what to expect.

She paints a beautiful picture of Emma’s surroundings, particularly Echo Point and it’s easy to picture the historical, Colonial American town as Emma makes friends and explores it. And on top of that, you have this beautifully haunting ghost story that is suspenseful and gripping. I literally couldn’t put this book down and ended up missing out on a bit of sleep because I just completely lost track of time and couldn’t bear to stop reading.

As for all that I said about hating romance in teen fiction recently? Scrap it. I found myself vying for the romantic interest in this book constantly and hoping for just a little rumpy-pumpy. I was a little surprised at myself after my recent annoyance with romance in books, however, it really worked. Emma is a teenager, with teenage hormones, and she’s bound to like the hot guys. It fits quite snugly into the plot rather than overshadowing a good story or feeling like it’s put in there just to be there, which is how I usually feel about romance in young adult fiction, and I thought it even added a lot to the emotion of Deception. I did have a little issue with the reasons for why the romance was ‘forbidden’, as mentioned in the blurb. It felt a little like a convenient plot device but I was so in love with the book that I couldn’t fault it as much as I might otherwise have done after that emotional rollercoaster towards the end. I hate that phrase, but it just fits so perfectly. This book will break your heart.

There are plenty of questions and mysteries throughout that leave you wanting to read more, just to find out what the hell is going on, and before you know it you’ve run out of book. Most questions are answered toward the end and despite how frustrated you might be in the beginning as to where everybody has gone and why this, that, and the other is happening, things are quite well wrapped up, or are at least mentioned again leaving you craving more, so if you do pick up Deception, I certainly recommend you also pick up Betrayal because you’re going to need it.

Note: Though everything points to Deception being released on 5th September in the UK, the paperback appears to be available already, from Amazon at the very least.

The Haunting Emma series in order:

1. Deception
2. Betrayal
3. Surrender