Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Lily Dale Series by Wendi Corsi Staub

I stumbled upon this series of mystery ghost stories set in the village of Lily Dale in Western New York while browsing the young adult section at the library. Having grown up somewhat near Lily Dale which is a real spiritualist community, I was intrigued to see another book series set in that location and checked the first one, Lily Dale: Awakening out.

I really enjoyed the book. There are a lot of novels out there set in the Lily Dale location, and I thought that Awakening had a unique plot and a wonderful mystery component. The story follows Calla, a Florida teen whose mother dies during an accident. Calla's dad, a college professor, is slated to leave for a visiting professorship in California, and Calla goes to stay temporarily with her grandmother (her mother's mother) in Lily Dale. The catch is that Calla does not know her grandmother well, and her mother kept pretty much everything from her childhood a secret from both her daughter and her husband.

There are several subplots as Calla learns about the spiritualist bent of her new town, and deals with both the death of her mother and being the new kid in a very small community. I would recommend this book to kids, teens, and adults who love mysteries without reservation if it wasn't for the fact that I have also read the second book in the series, Lily Dale: Believing.

Awakening ends with a cliffhanger. I started Believing a couple of weeks later. I was disappointed by the way the author kept adding things from the first book in a rather disconnected "by the way" manner. It really messed up the flow of the first few chapters. Then some of the mystery subplots became just too graphic for me. I was not prepared for a realistic horror component. I had a nightmare the day I started Believing.

Of course, the books are mysteries, and my curiosity was aroused, so I will be staying with this series until the end. I can recommend it for those who love mysteries, and don't mind horror or an occasional lack of flow in the name of catching the reader up. I will update more after I have read the other books.

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