Author: Kelly Creagh
Publication: Atheneum (August 31, 2010)
Description: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.
Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.
As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.
His life depends on it.
My Thoughts: Wow! What a breath-taking, thrill ride of a book! This book starts out so simply. The cheerleader Isobel gets paired with the goth boy Varen for an assignment to do a report on Poe. It could have been a simple contemporary romance.
Isobel starts out as the cute, blond cheerleader who dates the star football player and travels with the in-crowd but she is always more than that. She has a conscience and values. She has a strong sense of self. She is brave.
Varen is quite mysterious. We really don't find out too much about him. Everything is in hints and teases. We get a brief look at his unhappy home life. We see him at work in the ice cream shop and hanging out in a creepy old used bookstore. We get glimpses of his innate courtesy both in his treatment of Isobel and when he meets her mother.
The book quickly veers off into the strange world that Poe wrote about and Isobel soon doesn't know what is real and what is imagined. She needs to battle imaginary creatures and interact with strange characters who may be allies or may be enemies to save Varen from being swept up in this nightmarish dreamscape.
The language is rich and the book is packed with terrifying images. The book is long but this reader was swept into the story and couldn't put it down. I had the same reaction to the book as Isobel had when she finally got into reading Poe's stories. "Slowly the words started to get out of the way and let images of courtiers revolve, in slow motion, through her mind’s eye."
I highly recommend this book to older young adults who like some paranormal of the nightmarish variety with their romance. I know that I am hoping for a sequel.
He turned his head and caught her with his eyes.Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge
She froze, locked by the intensity of his stare. His eyes were stark and cold, the concentrated green of pale jade. Outlined in smudge black kohl, those eyes focused on her, unblinking through the feathery strands of his jet-black hair, and it was like being watched through a cage by a complacent and calculating cat.