Reaching the age of 16 is an important turning point in a teen’s life. It is a special time, labeled “Sweet 16” in the case of young girls, a kind of coming of age. What if there was more than just a coming of age, a heralding of a different understanding?
In The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie, we are introduced to Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat. As Sunshine reaches the age of 16 things seem just a bit different, but she can’t really get a feel for it. Going cross-country to the Northwest for her mother’s new job, she finds the new house they are moving into decidedly creepy. Her relationship with her mother has always been extremely close, much like that of best friends; their bond is strong and they laugh and share inside jokes that hold them close. Yet that too seems to change as they move into this new place. Unable to figure it out, she shares her concerns with her friend she left behind, as well as her mother.
Usually on the same wavelength, she cannot get her mother to see or hear the strange happenings, including that of water running and a young girl crying. Sleep is becoming more difficult and her mother is becoming more distant. School is her only escape for now and she has befriended a strange young man, Nolan Foster, who is more than willing to listen to her concerns. His is smart and cute, yet he is a bit ostracized from the rest of the kids due to his belief in paranormal occurrences. He certainly comes by it naturally as his grandfather was a bit of a ghost hunter, who died before he could prove his theories to the outside world.
As they come together to try and tackle the possible haunting, they find there is more danger than could be imagined. The short time in the home already has her mother turning into someone else. As Sunshine tries to come to terms and get her mother to understand, Kat picks up a knife and cuts first herself and then Sunshine on the hand. Sunshine now knows that this woman is more than just her mother; there is another presence there as well, and one who is not concerned about the body that seems to now be housing it. Sunshine enlists the help of Nolan to help her find the answers before any further damage can occur. As they search for information, the horror uncovered is more than they bargained for. Death seems to be stalking them. Can they do what they need to do before it is too late for them all?
This is a fascinating tale of the paranormal and the importance of family and the belief in each other. The characters are quite well thought out, and you find yourself wanting to be a part of the fold. Well, except for the creepy stuff. There is humor and terror, and the investigation is strange and abhorrent, yet sets the stage for the presence that seems to be within their new home.
If you enjoy paranormal activity, friendships, family, and just great personalities you will find this a fun, page turning work. Set as a young adult work, it also works great as a crossover novel for the nature and speed of the action keeps you riveted as the investigation takes your mind in dizzying direction.
Paige McKenzie is an author to watch for.