Book review: Phantasma by Penelope Reece


Rating:

4stars

Alphie Brewster attends school, has friends, and a loving family. She’s even taken an interest in the hot new neighbor. It’s the normal life of your average eighteen-year-old. There’s only one problem. Alphie isn’t normal. She’s anything but. You see, Alphie’s got this problem. She’s always tired, is plagued with vivid nightmares, and can’t remember her past.

After Alphie stumbles upon a necklace that once belonged to her grandfather, and unintentionally opens a portal that sends a ghostly figure hurtling out at her from her bedroom mirror, she finds herself faced with another problem. A six foot four inch tall eccentric spook, named Noer, who fills her with fire while draining her energy as if she were a Duracell Battery.

With Noer constantly making her go all weak in the knees, Alphie wants nothing more than to be rid of both him and the necklace. Especially, since the sexy neighbor, Cary, has taken a fancy to her. And that’s not all. With both spook and Cary fighting for her attentions, Alphie starts to remember things. Things that she wished would stay buried. Then Alphie visits Noer’s home in Limbo, and things start to get even weirder.

If that all isn’t complicated enough, a vicious stranger comes looking for the necklace. And this stranger will do anything to get it. Within this chaos, will Alphie be able to come to terms with her past in order to save her family? Or will she become just another lost soul without a body?

I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. So, here goes.

***MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***

Okay, first things first. Sure, the blurb is kind of big and a little too informative. When I pick up a book, I want the blurb to be enticing without revealing everything about the story. So, yeah, I wish they’d shorten up the blurb. Now, moving on to the actual story, I have to say that the first 15% or so of the story didn’t hook me in. It was sort of cliche and the writing was forced and stilted. The conversations between Alphie, our leading girl of the book, and her sister Robyn sounded contrived. Another thing I didn’t like was Alphie’s name. I mean, I get that a lot of female leads inYA books (especially of the paranormal variety) tend to have weird names, but Alphie? Seriously? I didn’t like it.

Then, Alphie opened up the portal. And BOOM! The story picked up pace quickly after that and the writing seemed more fluent and spontaneous. I found myself not wanting to put the book down at all. It was a bad, bad decision I made to start reading the book at 11 in the night. I didn’t – couldn’t – get to sleep until I finished the book at 6 in the morning. Thank God I have summer vacation right now or else I would have had to skip my classes. So, anyway, the story becomes much, much interesting after Noer enters the plot. Even though Cary was nice and all, and even though Noer was made to appear creepy, I was still rooting for Noer and Alphie. Plus, once I was past the halfway mark, I didn’t even mind Alphie’s name. I was actually starting to like it. I loved the way Alphie’s “episodes” were written. I could almost imagine it happening to me. So, all in all, the book was a really good read, really enjoyable. The plot was something different from all the other YA books I’ve read so far. But the feeling I got while reading the book – the emotions – kind of reminded me of when I read Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. That is a huge compliment because Nevermore is one of my most favorite books. This book didn’t have the standard happy ending other YA books have, although it is a happy ending “in a strange sort of way”. The only cliche I found in the book was the fact that Alphie had a really low self-esteem. What is it with YA girls and low self-esteem? So, anyway, it would be nice if there is a sequel to this story, maybe telling a bit more about what exactly happened to Edger and about the life Noer and the “new Alphie” are living now.

Pros:

  • Unique plot
  • Best friend who is not annoying, for a change
  • Sister who actually cares about Alphie
  • Romantic interest who doesn’t smother
  • Romantic interest who isn’t perfect in all the ways (*ahem*Edward*ahem*)
  • Eerily scary at times (in a good way)
  • Really good ending (non-cliche)
  • The villain (who happens to have a surprising link to Alphie) scared the shit out of me!

Cons:

  • First 15% is sort of blah
  • Alphie’s self-esteem issues
  • Alphie’s Mom was kind of absent throughout the whole story. I wish more chapters had dealt with the relationship between Alphiea and her mom.

Verdict:

Phantasma was funny, scary, romantic, thrilling and packed with suspense. It was a really exciting read for me. More people should read it and see what an amazing story it is!

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