Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Summary (from Goodreads)
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.
For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.
With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.
I’ve been looking forwards to reading something of Brenna Yovanoff’s ever since I saw the creeptastic cover of The Replacement ages ago. While I never got round to reading The Replacement, Paper Valentine has only renewed my desires to track it down in the library.
I’m really enjoying all these genre-bending books at the moment. Blending the issues around anorexia with hauntings and a murder mystery was an interesting mix, making for a rich tapestry of character development, interaction, philosophical musings, the paranormal, grisly murder and some truly poetic moments. There wasn’t an ingredient out of place or overpowering the mixture – everything worked together to make what could have been any number of mediocre stories something truly memorable and spectacular.
The exploration of the after effects of Lillian’s death is never schmaltzy. Hannah’s guilt and grief are counterbalanced by her confusion and resentment. For every ‘I wish I had done more’ there’s a ‘Why did you have to be so stupid?’ I loved that things weren’t as easy as just missing her friend, even without the added complication of being haunted by her.
The mystery was fairly easy to solve if you were paying attention, and the twist ending was less of a shock when it was clear there were still too many pages left for a simple ‘happy ever after’ though that didn’t really matter anyway. Also, a big deal was made about the birds which never really amounted to anything, but perhaps it was meant to be a bit of a red herring. But overall, these are very minor quibbles over what was an excellent, creepy book which I devoured in about two hours (alone in a slightly creepy hotel room, which added to the atmosphere!) and thoroughly enjoyed.