Thursday, February 28, 2013

REVIEW: "Queen of the Dead" by Stacey Kade

Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth, #2)
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
(The Ghost and the Goth #2)

For Ages 13+
Young Adult -- Paranormal
Hyperion -- May 31, 2011
Hardcover, 266 pages
Borrowed from library

After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

On television, ghost-talkers run antique stores, solve crimes, or stand on a stage in a nice suit giving teary-eyed audience a toothy, yet sympathetic grin.

Warning!  This book is part of a series so the review may contain minor spoilers for those who have not read the first installment.

I enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth so I was really excited to continue the series with Queen of the Dead.  And I had a blast with this one!  Alona and Will's story is so much fun and so creative that I read it in a day and was ready to start the next book immediately.  What I especially loved was how Stacey Kade took the best parts of the first book and just pushed things to a different level.

Just like the first book, Queen of the Dead consists of two points of view (teenaged ghost Alona and her ghost-talker friend Will).  I continue to love this writing style and how it moves the story along while allowing readers to get to know the characters better.  Sometimes I have problems with the dual p.o.v. style because one character is more developed than another, but thankfully that is not the case with this series.

Alona was a little hard to like in the first book, but I am a huge fan of hers in this one.  She is in a difficult situation, but is becoming more mature in how she handles it.  This book allows readers to understand more about her relationship with her parents before her death and how much it affected her personality.  And then there's Will who I absolutely adore!  He is becoming less broody (thanks to Alona's influence), but still retains enough of his moodiness to stay true to his character.  I really loved watching his journey to becoming confident in his ghost-talker abilities and how much he has changed in a short amount of time.

Alona and Will's relationship is very slow in developing, but that is the best part for me. Readers get to see them transition from acquaintances to friends to possibly something more in a way that makes it very organic and readable. I like how Stacey Kade shows their growing connection and that they are both helping each other grow though they aren't always aware of it. I definitely look forward to further developments along the Alona/Will front especially with the way that this one ended.

The plot of Queen of the Dead was a lot different than I expected though this was a good thing. Readers get to learn more about ghost-talkers through the introduction of a highly annoying character named Mina who tries to recruit Will to an organization designed to eliminate ghosts, no matter what. The differing philosophies regarding ghosts and whether or not ghost-talkers should help them is a major part of this book and I really liked how the author handled it. I will warn potential readers that this book is a bit darker than The Ghost and the Goth, but it is still enjoyable. There is still humor in this series (thanks primarily to Alona's snark) and it is used as a great balance for the deeper part of the storyline.

All in all, this was a satisfying installment in a very entertaining, and creative, series.  I definitely recommend it to fans of funny paranormals with a hint of danger.  Though I will warn you that there is a cliffhanger that will have you reaching for the next book almost immediately upon finishing this one!

"This girl who equally drove me crazy and made me care about her more than I should. She was the only one who understood. The only one who could help make what I was more bearable, even if she occasionally tortured me in the process."

1. The Ghost and the Goth
2. Queen of the Dead
3. Body & Soul



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