Thursday, March 31, 2016

Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

Series: Beware the Wild (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Paranormal Romance/Southern Gothic

Subjects: swamps, folklore, supernatural, mystery, ghosts, spirits, ghost hunters

Setting: Sticks, Louisiana (A town near a swamp/Bayou)

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Candy (Candace) Craven Pickens

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 356 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for…forever.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. She and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, but Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been appearing in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.

But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the family.

As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers…and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.”

My Review: Behold the Bones is a companion novel to Beware the Wild, which was told in Sterling POV. This book is from the POV of Sterling’s skeptic friend, Candy Pickens. It’s set in the small town of Sticks in the Louisiana bayou. Candy, unlike most of the town, can’t see the wasting Shine. Sterling says that the Shine actually goes out of its way to avoid Candy. Candy also can’t see the ghost that other folk are seeing.

Candy is scientifically minded and very much a skeptic of the southern superstitions. She sees the swamp stories that she’s read and herd as a fun thrills used for manipulation. Until people in Sticks report ghost siting’s that sound like the ones from the stories. Candy feels left out because she can’t see the ghost. Sterling, Abigail and Candy trek into the swamp to the Shine tree and try performing a ritual that Candy hope will let her see the Shine. Nothing seems to happen.

A few days later the producer and star of the hit TV show, Local Haunts, Mr. Roosevelt King moves into the Lillard house historical site and they renovate it. Sticks is now in the spotlight. Mr. King hopes to film his show there and find answers to what’s happening. Candy meets his children: Gage, an attractive 18-year-old guy, Nova, his sister who’s in Candy’s grade, and their kid brother Thad. 

Candy  (and the whole town) goes to a gala for Gage’s 18th birthday. A ghost crashes the party and it’s the first ghost Candy’s ever truly sited. She touches the ghost and the ghost disappears and now the whole town thinks she’s got a superpower for banishing ghosts. It’s caught on camera and Mr. King wants it for his show and Candy believe that this will ruin her life. Candy wants out of Sticks and she doesn’t want any country baggage following her.

Natalie C. Parker really knows how to write a southern story full of creepy atmosphere. I’ve never been to the South before (unless Kentucky counts), but her books make you feel like you’re there. Since the book is set in late summer, you can imagine the sticky heat and stick that the swamp must bring. Sometimes in summer, it feels like that here in Illinois too (we have lots of mashes and it gets very humid). The swamp becomes like a character in itself. The Shine is some kind of magic that lives in the swamp and comes from a cherry tree that’s always in bloom.

Candy’s perspective is actually more interesting than I remember Sterling’s being. Sterling described by Candy actually seems a lot more peppy and sweet than I remember, possibly because she got together with Heath, and also she’s got her brother back. Abigail is very quiet and she’s African American and like girls. I forgot about her in the first book. Anyways, these three girls and a great bond of friendship. Sometimes things become strained. Candy’s sometimes to bold, and Sterling is like the glue and Abigail tends to be bottled up. They make friends with Nova King because she seems nice, but she may actually just want their help and information.

These books are really enjoyable and fun. If you enjoyed paranormal stories set in the south, like Beautiful Creature, The Magnolia League, Ghost Huntress, or TV shows like the Originals, you may enjoy this. Also, if you love anything related to New Orleans or Louisiana, swamps and gators. Even horror stories not set in the south, like the Creeping.

Cover Art Review: I love the colors of this cover. The Payne’s gray-blue and magenta contrast really well. There’s a face in the fog above Behold with eyes made of branches. The title treatment is cool and creepy.

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