Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Past Midnight

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
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Nov 09, 10

bookshelves: amazon-vine, owned-and-still-own
Read from October 31 to November 01, 2010 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Mara Purnhagen, Past Midnight (Harlequin, 2010)

I was in the middle of a dozen other things when I picked up Past Midnight, the first book in a new series by local author Mara Purnhagen. This is nothing out of the ordinary; I'm usually in the middle of a dozen other things. It's not all that often that I put them all aside and concentrate on one book, however, and that's exactly what happened here. I can't quite put my finger on why, but there's no denying the speed with which I devoured this. I took it down in less than twenty-four hours, despite those twenty-four hours containing a whole lot of other (non-book-related) stuff.

Charlotte Silver is a normal teenager in a very abnormal family; her parents are world-renowned debunkers of the paranormal, with a host of books and a bunch of documentary ghost-hunting-style TV shows tot heir credit. They move around a lot, and thus a good deal of Charlotte's life is spent trying to mask who her parents are when she turns up at the inevitable new school at the end of each summer. At the end of summer vacation one year, however, Charlotte's older sister Annalise steps in and lays down the law: the two of them want Charlotte to have a normal year in a regular everyday house and one single high school, or Annalise will no longer help with the documentaries. The parents capitulate, and the family moves into a newly-built house instead of a supposedly-haunted Victorian horror. Charlotte is thrilled...until she discovers that a pair of ghosts from their summer vacation in Charleston have followed the family to their new digs. Charlotte doesn't believe in ghosts, but it seems a few of them believe in her...

My favorite thing about this book is that in a genre that's more than saturated with paranormal romance novels, Purnhagen sticks to the “paranormal” and discards the “romance” altogether. Hallelujah. She is setting it up for romance farther down the line (it looks as if Charlotte's going to be torn between two guys at her high school, though the end of this book makes it pretty clear who she's going to end up with), but this is a simple ghost story/mystery, and it's a stronger book for that, I think. It shows that Purnhagen is at least willing to turn her back on some of the conventions of the genre, and with so many carbon-copy books coming out these days, that's sure to be a strong point. As well, Purnhagen knows how to start a book fast and keep the pace wavering between “pedal to the floor” and “breakneck”, which always makes for fun genre novels. Fans of the new breed of teen ghost stories will definitely want to check this one out. *** ½
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