15 August 2011
Author: Lee Nichols
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: September 2011
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
When her parents leave on a business trip, Emma Vaile thinks she will have the time of her life partying and living without rules. Except her parents don’t come back and don’t answer her calls, and she is left in charge of the family shop. After her house party gets out of hand, she is taken into custody and set to be sent off to a foster family. Until her new guardian Bennett Stern rescues her and takes her to Echo Point to start a new school and learn gifts as a ghostkeeper that she never knew she had.
Review: Deception is absolutely jam-packed with mystery, suspense and an intriguing plot. Despite having been abandoned by her family and kept in the dark about so many things, Emma is a likeable, sparky character and one I can easily sympathise with for feeling neglected, betrayed and unsure of ghostkeeping.
As a ghostkeeper, Emma can either summon, compel or banish ghosts, although it turns out her gifts are rather unusual and link her to a powerful ancestor of the same name born over a hundred years ago. This ancestors’ connection to another ghost the Rake are really intriguing and it’s these secondary characters along with her newfound family that really stand out in the book and make it such an interesting and warm read.
I keep thinking of the ghostkeepers as ‘ghostbusters’ as they can banish ghosts, but really Lee Nichol’s concept of ghosts, wraiths and ‘life after death’ is much more developed and interesting.
In fact my favourite aspect of Deception is Emma’s relationship with her ghost family - Anatole, Nicholas, Celeste and the Rake. Unlike other ghostkeepers she doesn’t compel them to do things but treats them with respect and like they are old friends rather than servants. It’s really endearing when Emma and young Nicholas play Game Boy together, as Nicholas is such a sweet little boy and I love his childlike enjoyment of modern games and finding an older sister in Emma.
After moving to Echo Point, Emma finds herself caught in a love triangle with Coby and Bennett, both of whom she likes but for different reasons. As Emma puts it so well - "[Coby] was cool, smart, cute and reliable. The problem was, I liked him for all those perfectly good reasons, but I liked Bennett for no reason at all". I think this perfectly sums up that instant attraction and love for someone, as unexplainable but instinctive as it is. All the same I can’t help but feel for Coby who has everything going for him and is amazingly thoughtful and kind, but just doesn’t have that spark that makes him more than a friend to Emma.
I’m not sure yet what to make of Bennett as he turns hot and cold with Emma. The moments where he forgets himself and we see some connection between them are rare but really exciting and intimate when they do happen. For much of the time however he is aloof and distant, disappearing to do work for the strange organisation the Knell. The intention is definitely to keep us guessing about Bennett, so we can only wait to see what skeletons he has in his closet in the next book!
Deception is a fun paranormal story about ghostkeepers, leaving plenty of questions left unanswered for Emma and setting the scene for Betrayal, the next in the Haunting Emma series.