Book Review, Tamsyn Murray, Young Adult

Book Review: My So-Called Haunting by Tamsyn Murray

How many times do I have to ask you to knock?’ I yelled at Mary as she drifted through the door of my room and looked me up and down.

‘Thou resemblest a strumpet,’ she said, staring pointedly at my thigh-skimming skirt.
Sometimes I had trouble understanding Mary’s weird babbling, but in this case I was getting her loud and clear. Suddenly, my mood was blacker than a vampire’s soul.

Skye, a fourteen-year-old psychic, is stressed out. Not only is the ghost of a sixteenth-century witch giving her fashion tips, but she’s struggling to settle into life with her aunt, and is developing a crush on the most unattainable boy in the school, Nico.

When her aunt asks for her help with a troubled teen ghost called Dontay, she’s glad of the distraction. But then Nico starts paying her attention, and she’s soon facing a battle to keep her love life and her psychic life separate.

As things get ever more complicated, it looks as though Dontay’s past might cost Skye her future. (From Goodreads.com)

This is a book I was highly anticipating. I loved Tamsyn Murray’s debut YA novel, My So-Called Afterlife, which released earlier this year and my daughter and I had also enjoyed her first book for younger readers (Stunt Bunny: Show Biz Sensation). Her hilarious, fresh and unique story telling completely charmed me.

My So-Called Haunting is no different and once again I devoured it in almost one sitting. In fact, as with MSCA, I only meant to have a quick scan of the first couple of pages, as I do when a new book plops through the letterbox. Before I knew it I’m thirty pages in and still standing by the front door. Murray’s ability to open a book with one hell of a first line is impressive. From that very first sentence she manages to hook you in and there’s pretty much no letting go until you’ve turned the last page.

My So-Called Haunting introduces us to Skye. Short, shy, new girl in town and psychic. As if it’s not hard enough fitting in at her new school, she sees and hears ghosts and keeping it secret is getting more and more difficult. When gorgeous and mysterious Nico comes to her rescue after a tricky situation, Skye is stunned at his interest in her…why would the hottest guy in school want to hang round with her? I really liked Skye, she’s very real and constantly worries about what her peers think of her. Having been the new girl at this age I could completely relate to her and the fact that she has flaws and isn’t incredibly beautiful makes her all the more appealing.

Nico is a bit of a mystery and I really liked the relationship building between the two. It’s so sweet! But there’s more to him than first appears and things take a fantastic twist where he’s concerned. Mary, the sixteenth century ghost is hilarious and provides those witty one-liners I love and expect from Murray. And I was pleased to see Jeremy from My So-Called Afterlife making reappearance. While My So-Called Haunting isn’t really a sequel to the first, it’s a story in it’s own right with new main characters, they do tie in together very well.

What strikes me about Tamsyn Murray’s ghostly stories is that along with the fun and laughs, she also manages to add a serious teenage issue. Last time it was suicide and teen/parent relationships. This time it’s gang crime and the tragedy that occurs when young people become embroiled in this way of life. She manages this seamlessly and I think her unique way of getting those issues across will really capture a teens attention and have them thinking, without preaching to them. She manages to make these issues real, without them being too gritty and graphic and her books are suitable and appealing to a younger audience too. I’d happily recommend her books to anyone age eleven up.

If there was one slight niggle about this book it was that Nico’s story didn’t feel finished or complete. Then right at the end of the book there’s the synopsis for My So-Called Phantom Love Life, which clearly picks up the story of Skye and Nico. I’m certain anyone who reads this book will be as eager as me to find out more and will eagerly await it’s release in 2011!

Nico niggle aside, once again I loved Tamsyn Murray’s latest book. It’s fun, it will make laugh out loud, and it has a relatable and genuinely lovely main character. There’s something different about Murray’s book that make her stand out from others around at the moment and I warn you now, once you open the book you won’t want to stop until you’ve read every last bit!

Published in the UK by Piccadilly September 2010

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