If any one was meant to bring the atmosphere of a Gothic novel into a contemporary setting and do it well it is Sarah Rees Brennan and that is exactly what she has done with Unspoken.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Kami Glass loves someone
she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she
was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her
childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town
of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not
fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is
only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just
the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that
overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters
who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with
their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to
Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s
determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is
suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths
of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary
friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate
him? Can she trust him?
You know how in all Gothic novels there is a mysterious manor and an equally mysterious yet strangely alluring person/family who lives in said manor? Now imagine that family was the Malfoys and they had the entire town of terrified normal folk under their power. Now imagine one such normal girl was Veronica Mars. Throw in a paranormal connection between girl and boy from family and wrap it all up in Sara Rees Brennan's signature pithy prose and you have Unspoken.
Kami is a heroine with a mind of her own, even when Jared is invading it and reading her thoughts. The girl is all over the place. (In a good way.) Breaking into buildings to gather evidence. Harassing people for information. Walking into dangerous parts of the woods with eyes wide open. Getting herself shoved down wells. Jared has to rescue her a couple of times. She rescues him a couple of times too. Kami is understandably wary of Jared. He knows all there is to know about her and she knows a lot about him too. However she doesn't trust him. Brennan did a brilliant job of making me feel all the emotions Kami was feeling about who to trust. Like her, I found Jared extremely appealing, in the way all troubled bad-boys-who-may-not-be-so bad are. I wanted to trust him, but I didn't completely. It was an interesting ride to take with Kami.
But this book isn't all about Kami and Jared. Kami has a life outside the cute boys that come to town and so suddenly into her life. She's a busy girl. And she has an entire team of people at her back. Her parents are involved in her life. She has friends. She has adorable little siblings. All of these people better live to see the end of the third book.
The mystery surrounding the Lynburns is solved in an action packed sequence in which much happens and not a lot is resolved. This is the beginning of the trilogy and the end is definitely not neat and tidy. Be warned if you don't like books that leave you wanting to what happens next. This one will. I'm certainly eager to know what happens next and that's unfortunate because I have no idea when the next one is coming out in the US.
If you are a fan of the Gothic romance, creepy families, intrepid heroines, and mystery this would be a fun read. And seriously how can you not want to have fun with a book that contains all that?
I read a copy made available via NetGalley. The book will be released on September 11.