‘Past Midnight’ review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel surprised me, and in a good way. At first, I assumed the novel would have a pretty basic plot on ghosts, but I love ghosts and all kinds of ghost stories so I was willing to give it a go, either way. It kept getting pushed to the back of my TBR pile, until one day I thought ‘no, I’m going to read this today.’ And I’m glad I did.

It centres around Charlotte. A girl with slight insecurity issues, especially around her older, beautiful sister. Her parents make their living investigating paranormal sightings and disproving them, which I loved. It’s a fresh spin on the whole reality/ghost show type thing. And Charlotte isn’t really all that pleased with her parents’ job as it involves moving around a lot never leaving her time to settle down and make friends. But after a particularly strange, freaky investigation in a cafe, the family agree to settle down for the year to allow Charlotte the chance to finish her senior year in one place. Which would be great if the ghosts from the cafe hadn’t of followed Charlotte to her new town with demands of their own.

What I really liked about this novel was Charlotte’s desire to be normal. She craved it, and it is entirely realistic. As a reader, I was very sympathetic to her cause and I couldn’t see her parents side when they would try to persuade her that their job was thrilling and a good thing. I found them to be very selfish. The blurb is slightly misleading as I expected there to be more of a romance than there was. But in a way, I’m glad the romance was set aside for the plot to shine through. We are introduced to a group of girls led by Avery, a well developed character who, for once, isn’t the bitchy cheerleader stereotype. She has secrets of her own and a personality that shines through, sometimes more than Charlotte’s. I liked Avery very much and whenever Charlotte would do something that could potentially ruin the friendship, I’d get upset. So Purnhagen definitely did something right there!

We are given a bit of mystery as a side plot. There’s a secret centred around one boy at the school and Charlotte is determined to find out the whole truth, not just the little pieces she is fed by Avery and her friends. When the final discovery comes about, it wasn’t gasp worthy, but it made sense and it gave the story a new level.

I would have liked for the ghosts to have been a little creepier. There were some things they could do that was never fully explored. And I have the sequel sitting here to read so I’m hoping they’ll be explored then. I liked how the ghosts were described, but a scene at the end threw it all out of wack and it left me more confused than it should have. Charlotte’s reactions to the hauntings were realistically done and well described. I’d have liked to have seen more haunting scenes, though.

Purnhagen has a way of writing that makes you feel like you’re in the story with the characters. The description is slightly lacking, and the prose isn’t as nice as I’ve seen in other books recently. However, none of these points affected how much I enjoyed reading. Once I started I couldn’t stop.

I’d recommend this to anyone wanting a light paranormal read with a hint of mystery.

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