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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review: Unearthly Things by Michelle Gagnon

I admit, I didn't like Jane Eyre when I first tried to read it when I was about 11. So then I didn't read it until I was about 25, when I absolutely loved it. Another thing I love: retellings of classics. So this retelling of Jane Eyre for the YA audience was right up my alley!

Janie has to move from Hawaii to San Francisco after her parents are killed in a car accident. She's never heard of this family, the Rochesters, that she's moving in with (the lawyer explained people often forget to update their will many years later when circumstances have changed.) They're insanely wealthy which makes Janie feel even more like a charity case. She's immediately shipped off  to a fancy prep school along with the daughter who is her age. But things don't go well there as it's soon clear she's a mean girl. Back at the house, the little brother, Nicholas, keeps telling Janie things his twin sister, who died last year, is telling him to do. Creepy. And then there are the noises coming from the attic...

It is a thoroughly modern story with texting and smart phones and surfing and the like, but it has an eerie gothic feel totally in keeping with the original. Ms. Gagnon changes up just enough so that those familiar with the story won't know exactly how it will end. And the ending is scary! In fact, I must recommend not reading the end right before going to bed, like I did, as it's hard to sleep after!

I liked this book so much that I actually gave it away, twice, while I was reading it (luckily it is published by Soho Press, my employer, so I was always able to get another copy at work the next day.) I kept telling people about it and how great it was! Janie is a completely relatable teenager who feels real and three-dimensional. She's a little impulsive but that works. It's a zippy, fast read that will suck you in and it's certainly the first time that I wished my train on my morning commute would get stuck and be delayed. It's not out until April though, so you'll have to put it on your wish list for now.

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