Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories, Young Adult
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Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just ... creepy.
In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.
This is a review of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Book 1 written by Paige McKenzy. Published by Weinstein Books in 2015.
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is an interesting book, that is based on the hit YouTube series of the same name. Having watched the YouTube series for many years, even contributing to both of the movies, Search for Black eyed Kids and THR33, I can honestly say that I am a fan of Paige McKenzy and her work. As such this will be, as all reviews truely are, a biased writing about the first book in this series. However as I do not know how the book series will continue from this first book, so there is a possibility that what I know from the YouTube series and what I speculate may lead to spoilers, however that is unintentional.
While reading the book I noticed, as any fan would, the many differences of the two series, however I was happy for many of the changes. The only changes I found to be a little odd, was the change of location and one specific character missing. In the YouTube series the location is typically in Oregon and in the book the story takes place in Washington. This change did not bother me, just that I found it strange. The only other change I found odd was that Uncle Tommy was not in the book. I understand Paige is going for a change in the story so there may not be a place for him within the book, but there is a possibility he can show up later in the book series.
This book is in the horror genre and is actually, to use the words of Sunshine Girl, creepy. The books comes across as creepier than the first season of the YouTube series and is paced at just the right pace to keep the reader engaged, while not being to slow. The setting of the book, as stated in the introduction, is Washington. The story mostly takes place inside one house, and the descriptions of the house make it feel like this place truly exists, though I imagined the house from the YouTube series in my head while reading this book.
The characters of Sunshine and Nolan are extremely likable and relatable. While they are believers of the supernatural it is not over blown in such a way that it makes either of them unlikable. In fact their progression in believing what is going on is so natural that I can imagine this really happening. Some of the events were predictable, but that is because I know the YouTube series so well. So Kat being possessed, was really the most predictable part of the story for me. However finding out Victoria’s backstory in this book was a bit of pleasant shock.
The plot moved in such a way that tied many of the mysteries set up at the start together bringing new questions into the plot, and leaving plenty to be answered in the next book in the series. There really felt as if there were two endings to this story. There was the first ending, that being a big climactic battle between Sunshine and the demon possessing Kat, this battle kept me on the edge of my chair the entire time and led to a brilliant ending. After the battle there is a last chapter that seems as if it is leading into the second book, this also brings in a second surprise about Victoria and even a nice little push for Nolan’s and Sunshine’s relationship together. It left me hanging for the next book, and ready to preorder it as soon as it is announced.
I must say that my favorite part in this series, is really any scene with Nolan in it. Nolan was my favorite character in this book and I cannot wait to see more of him in the next book, especially with his absence in the YouTube series.
I did enjoy the changes for the characters of Nolan and Victoria. I like that the book has Nolan as a classmate and Victoria a teacher at the school Sunshine transfers to at the beginning of book. This is changed from the YouTube series in that Victoria was introduced in Season one as just some creepy lady, possibly a witch, that constantly walked past Sunshine’s house until she was confronted, at which point Victoria started helping Sunshine.
Nolan was introduced in season 4 as some random guy, possibly a fan boy, that showed up on her doorstep and started talking about how he believes Sunshine is a luiseach and how he needs her help with his grandmother’s house, He later joins her in investigating hauntings, and was typically the source of the cases that she has had, he has referred to himself as a rogue.
This book is a great adaptation of the series with enough changes to keep long time fans interested, without boring them with telling the exact same story already on YouTube as well as being scary and fun for those who have never heard of Sunshine before but have an interest in the paranormal, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror books and books about the supernatural.