Dark Souls: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Dark Souls by Paula MorrisAfter the accident last summer, nothing has been the same for sixteen-year-old Miranda. Her best friend, really her only friend, is gone. Her brother can’t stand small spaces or driving anymore. And Miranda, well, she can see ghosts.

When the chance to take a family vacation in York, England arrives, Miranda’s parents jump at the chance. A little family time can only help everyone. Almost everyone.

York is one of the most haunted cities in the world. How can Miranda deal with seeing ghosts when she is surrounded by them, her family doesn’t know about it, and she barely understands this new ability herself?

Then Miranda meets Nick, an intense Goth boy who might be able to answer all of her ghost-related questions. With Nick to show her the ropes and the painfully beautiful ghost in the attic across the way, maybe seeing ghosts won’t be so bad after all.

Or maybe things are as bad as Miranda thought. If no one intervenes, something bad is going to happen and Miranda seems to the only one who can stop it–no matter how much she wishes she wasn’t in Dark Souls (2011) by Paula Morris.

I was of two minds about this book.

On the one hand, Dark Souls read more like a middle grade novel than a young adult title. Without age cues written into the story I would have pegged Miranda at fourteen and her brother at sixteen (rather than their stated ages of sixteen and eighteen, respectively). Some aspects of the story also felt predictable or obvious–I realized details before Miranda did even though she really should have been on board and know what was going on herself. Again, this would have been easier to let slide in a middle grade novel where the readers/characters are significantly younger than me rather than just a bit younger.

On the other hand, Dark Souls is a nice traditional ghost story. No all-consuming romance, almost no love interest at all. It’s refreshing when so many paranormal books have romance tagged onto the end of that descriptor nowadays. Morris gets back to basics with some dubious ghosts, a mysterious friend, and a plot that needs to be unraveled. And it is those basics that make Dark Souls work as much as it does. This book is a good one for readers who want to be left spooked rather than swooning.

Possible Pairings: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, Bliss by Lauren Myracle, Clockwork by Philip Pullman, Lily’s Ghosts by Laura Ruby

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