Book ReviewThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Reviewer's Rating: 
Don't you hate a fence sitter, and yet, this is where this book falls, not bad but not great.
Weinstein Books, 2015

Shortly after her 16th 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.

I'll gladly admit I'm not a horror or ghost story seeking reader, BUT when I saw on the cover of this new book it was based off a successful Youtube web series I was intrigued. Usually, it's the other way around! Book first, movie second. I wondered how something conceived and made popular as a visual format would translate to book form. Last but not least, the cover concept was pretty cool too.

Good points first: This book is a great October-get-you-in-the-halloween-mood read. I love that the main character has the name, Sunshine. There is a good mystery character who pops in every now and then with some obscure observations of our main character leaving us wondering - What the? Who is this person? Why are they watching?

On the fence points: Honestly, a book's pro is the ability to know exactly what the characters are thinking and in this case, smelling. Sunshine smells mildew when ghosts are near. That's a better literal translation for us to know than to watch on TV. But overall, this reads like it would be a fuller experience in a visual format. For instance, to us as readers it's no big scare when Sunshine leaves the room and returns a moment later noticing things have moved around her room. Not only does a visual format play to this tension better, so does the accompanying music to heighten the scare factor making it a ho-hum horror read. AND last but not least, Sunshine never wore anything like the dress on the cover...I know, it's a small thing, but misrepresentation like this always bothers me.

If light ghost books are your flavour, this book will do the trick but I think the majority of it's magic is to be found on screen.

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