As some of you know already, last year I featured as a panellist for the Book Blogger’s Novel of the Year Award, organised by the wonderful Dave from The Write Reads. I got to read some fantastic excerpts, along with a few full-length novels that made it into the top 10. One of these was Specter by Katie Jane Gallagher, a young adult mystery novel that has a curious paranormal focus.
***AD: This post features press samples but all thoughts are my own***
“Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.
Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
I don’t read many ghost stories if I’m honest, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Specter. Although a heavily paranormal book, the story is still based very much in realism and definitely comes under the low fantasy genre as well as mystery. This made it all the more interesting in my opinion, as the story was very believable.
Specter is also a young adult mystery novel, and the author has exactly the right writing style for the this. The book is written in first person from Lanie’s point of view and is easy to read, with a chatty tone and teenage perspective. This, combined with the fast pace of the book, made it one of those stories you just don’t want to put down – each chapter keeps you hooked and it’s so easy to sit down with and read that “just another chapter” becomes a regular occurrence!
Lanie is a great main character and I enjoyed seeing the world from her point of view. She’s quite introverted and non-mainstream, and I can see her being quite relatable for many readers of this genre. There aren’t a huge amount of supporting characters but the ones that are there are strong and well-developed. I particularly liked Lanie’s grandmother, and also a surprising friend that Lanie makes further down the line.
As for the story, it had a good amount of action which is ramped up towards the end. A lot of the book is quite investigative as Lanie tries to work out what on earth is going on with these spirits she can apparently see, and I found these parts really engaging and interesting. We learn about Lanie’s powers as she does, and the backstory behind it is a really fascinating one. I felt that some of the plot was a little predictable, however it was still enjoyable and this didn’t put me off wanting to carry on reading it. The sub-plots were also really well done, and explored Lanie’s relationship with her parents along with some of her own insecurities.
Although not my usual genre, I really enjoyed reading Specter. It was mysterious and intriguing, written well for its target audience and full of twists and turns. The author builds suspense well and has created a complex environment that makes for a great low fantasy plot. I’d definitely be interested in reading more from the author!
If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Specter then you can do so using the following links:
“Katie Jane Gallagher is the author of Specter and The Gold in the Dark. Her stories feature relatable, realistic characters who get swept up in extraordinary events. An avid reader of YA and genre fiction, she has a self-proclaimed affinity for the best sorts of trash.
Born and raised in Illinois, Katie currently lives in Connecticut with her stupendous, half-human half-neanderthal husband and their dopey boxer dog. She graduated magna cum laude from Connecticut College in 2012, with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature and a minor in history.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors.
If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering.
If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form. (Also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)!
What do you look for when reading YA books? Have you read a young adult mystery novel before? Share below, and don’t forget to like and comment if you enjoyed this review! You might also enjoy these other books with a fantasy element: