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Deception: Haunting Emma
by Lee Nichols

Release Date: 5th Sep 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978 1 4088 1960 9
RRP: £6.99

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Fab new ghostly series for teens...

At 17, Emma Vaile isn’t Miss Popular. She’s a bit too odd for the in-crowd. Not quite smart enough for the nerds. And her physical gaucheness excludes her from joining the jocks. The truth is: Emma doesn’t fit in anywhere – and she can’t really blame anyone but herself. She feels tainted. The still razor-sharp memory of being sent to the “poof” (that’s psychiatric hospital to you and me) at the age of 7 haunts her; but not nearly as much as the imagined people she sees and hears. Her antique-hunter parents have gone on another of their antique hunts, leaving her home alone; and their plans for her to be chaperoned fall through. Emma’s not worried – she knows how to take care of herself, or so she thinks. But weeks pass and not only do her parents not return, but Emma can’t get in touch with them. Time to panic? – wrong – surely a house party with a group of newly acquired “friends” is in order…

And of course, everything unravels from there only for a bloke to fill the breach. And what better bloke than Bennett? A few years older than Emma, Bennett is her brother’s erstwhile best friend – and it can’t hurt that he’s moody, attractive and a secret obsession of hers. Whisked away to live in Bennett’s family museum (it’s an actual museum) and attend an exclusive school, Emma finds herself surrounded by new friends – the living ones and the dead… That’s right. There were no imaginary friends, no reason for her being cruelly sent to the poof, no craziness – aside from her ability to communicate with ghosts. Seems, Emma’s been lied to her whole life; the question is: why?

The ever burgeoning genre of teenage paranormal nocks another arrow to its bow. Aimed squarely at those readers who want a little diversity from the now well trodden vampire-witch scenario; Deception is, nevertheless, yet another acolyte to the notion of a “chosen one”. Emma’s character is barely saved from drowning in sickly sweetness by the intermittent lustful urges for Bennett and the occasional half-hearted rebellion. The “Knell”, being a super secret Ghostkeeper version of the CIA is pretty cool; although, true to form, its bark proves to be worse than its bite. There are some unlikely characters that make this new series appealing – not least the irascible Harry – a former alcoholic (at 17!) with a penchant for Latin, extreme flirtatiousness and dramatic flourishes. Written with a deft aptitude for beguiling a reader into submission, Nichols’s narrative is rather like the snake charmer’s music: lulling, intoxicating and impossible to extricate yourself from.

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