Title: The Dead and Buried
Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic Point
A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.
Jade loves the house she’s just moved into with her family. She doesn’t even mind being the new girl at the high school: It’s a fresh start, and there’s that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade’s little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade’s jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn’t.
Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who’s seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade’s school — until her untimely death last year. It’s up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?
Back in 2011, one of my first years doing the Debut Authors Challenge, I fell in love with a book called Clarity. The cover was what first drew me in, then the premise, and then the book itself when I got it near the beginning of that year. It was short but interesting, with strong characters and a mystery drowning out the shortcomings, at least for me. I enjoyed the sequel, Perception, as well, though it struggled a tiny bit more since its setting moved to school and all its drama and generally-underdeveloped characters. I was sad when I saw that Kim Harrington’s next book wasn’t going to be Clarity #3 (not sure if there is ever going to be a #3, but I’m remaining hopeful until I see a definite no), but this book, The Dead and Buried, sounded interesting regardless. I read a fairly favourable review about a month or two before I read it, but I still came into this book nervous, mostly afraid that my enjoyment of Harrington’s books would lessen. Luckily for me, this book just kept that enjoyment alive.
It’s been a couple of months since I read this book, but I still remember a good portion of it. I remember most of the main cast of characters as well as the general arc of the mystery. Some of the characters seemed like they could have been developed slightly better, but overall they were interesting enough for such a short book, barely over 300 pages. Jade was an interesting character as well, from her love of jewelry (which I loved) t0 her name (a jewel for the jewelry collector!) to her love of her half-brother and to her quest to find the killer for that brother.
I didn’t really connect with the romance much, if I remember correctly. It’s not that I didn’t want Jade to win the boy, I just didn’t care too much either way. I’m not sure if the love interest ever truly felt real to me, with made the romance difficult to truly care about. Not a shortcoming, necessarily, but not strength for the book either.
The mystery kept me more involved, luckily. I’m pretty sure I figured out the killer a least a little bit before Jade did, but I didn’t mind. I was interested to see what would happen and to learn the motivation and what exactly did happen the night Kayla was pushed down the stairs. The journal entries that helped reveal the killer were interesting to read, and I had some fun corresponding the numbers to the characters they represented.
Another little problem I had was quite minor but has still stuck with me. After Kayla begins tormenting Jade and her little brother, Jade understandably wants to move away or at least get away from the house for a while. She is, again, understandably nervous to tell her father and stepmother since they probably won’t believe her when she tells them the house is haunted. I don’t think this is a spoiler, but minor spoiler just in case: they don’t believe her, of course, and her stepmother even accuses her of trying to manipulate them into moving back home by bringing her little brother into it. Jade is, again understandably, upset, but I think she gets a little too emotional, running up to her room and throwing herself onto her bed in a fit of crying. I know sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) teenagers can be quite emotional, but something about the whole thing just seem too dramatic and over-the-top to fully sympathize with Jade. This isn’t a problem with the book, just something that slightly bothered me.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book and it makes me look forward to anything else Harrington writes, whether about physic teenagers or haunted houses.