Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories? (goodreads summary)
Riley is warned by Bodhi that any lingering spirits she finds are to be left alone and can only be assigned by the Council. Ignoring this, she insists on helping crossover a hellhound she runs into at the beach of St. John Island only to find more trouble attached to it. Deciding to chase after the beast she meets Rebecca, a thirteen year old ghost filled with so much anger and hate that she keeps other souls from her time trapped in their own horrible memories and torment. Unfortunately, she also captures Bodhi and Buttercup in their own bubble of bad memory and it is up to Riley to find a way to free them from re-living their internal anguish. She meets a spirit of a Prince who knows Rebecca all to well and assists Riley with the knowledge she needs to help Rebecca free herself and the other souls from their imprisoned past.
Riley is once again a strong, spunky and brave character. However, this book has taken a much darker and scarier turn than the last book Radiance. I did like it, but I feel that the series has moved towards an older reading audience now. It was well-written in a twelve year old girls voice and gave strong visualization in many parts. We learn a little more about Bodhi while in his bad memory moment of a bullying incident involving another student. I felt heartbroken after learning his pain because it is something so true to life today. Even Buttercup had a sad memory to tell. The story was not light on the treatment of slaves on the plantation. Riley viewed glimpses of their horrific lives with the help of Prince Kanta to better understand how Rebecca was tied to them and the revolt on the plantation owner. Although sad and unthinkable, it plays an important part that led up to Rebecca's murder and how Riley must reach the souls to release them from her angry wrath. She also needs to encourage Rebecca towards a path of forgiveness before she too can crossover for a much better afterlife. There is alot of emotion depicted in this book and an underlying message that holding onto anger and hate can trap you. The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving you thinking about Riley's adventure in the next book Dreamland due out in the fall of 2011. I did find the story interesting but felt that it was a little dark and dreary. Sensitive younger readers may not understand the full historical storyline and find more than they want to know in the details on how Rebecca dies. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 12 and up.
Author: Alyson Noel
Pub. Date: March 2011
Soft Cover, 196 pgs.