Book Review

The Haunting Lessons by Robert Chazz Chute and Holly Pop

The Haunting Lessons follows our protagonist Tamara Smythe when she gains the ability to see the dead after the murder of her boyfriend. Drafted into a group of psychics, oracles and warriors with her gift. She is one of the Choir Impossible and she fights against the demons trying to break through the barrier into the human world.

Intially the story idea is good but all over the place, we start with Tamara’s love life but suddenty it cuts back to the past to the first live of her life. Dubbed the “love of her life”, the authors give the skewed impression that all teenage girls think about is love and living with their boyfriends. Contrary to belief, we females don’t all fall in love with our male best friends and neither do we dream of life long plans after a few years with a high school sweetheart.

Whilst some story points such as the mental hospital feel real and creative, they lack depth and rely on continuous fourth wall chatting and numerous flashbacks to provide any length. It all seems a little too thin– like a vaguely padded out plot plan although that plan is well constructed and has interesting ideas.

My main annoyance is that my curiosity and thirst for detail in the narrative is never satisfied. The plot is threadbare and doesn’t do justice to a potentially captivating book. Whilst the over-arcing theme of the battle between good and evil is the only idea explained in any length and even then I feel like pieces are missing. The authors define the good and evil sides but skips out on what we want to know – the characters and what motivates them in this ultimate war over the fate of the world.

Battles seem to last moments and the well rounded characters that we have come to know are killed off with a lingering on how and the emotions of the other characters. What should be been a penultimate event in the book, and a thrilling skirmish between the two sides turned dull as it was lacklustre in description and seemed negligent when in the longer scheme of plot is was supposed to be important.

What should have been a well crafted YA fantasy novel, instead leaves me feeling shortchanged and unsatisfied.

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