Paperback, 323 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Metal Blonde Books
There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.
Guest post by Karina Halle:
The Young Adult Books of Days of YoreHi Folks! My name is Karina Halle and I’m honored to be doing a guest post for the fabulous Reader Girls. I’m the author of Darkhouse and Red Fox, the first two books in the Experiment in Terror Series, which centers around amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray as they learn how to handle a burgeoning ghost hunting webcast and their volatile relationship with each other. For today’s guest post, I’ve decided to be nostalgic and talk about the Young Adult Series that used to keep my nose in the books.
Twenty years ago, the Young Adult marketplace was an entirely different scene. When I was growing up (and I am totally aging myself now), the go-to books included Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twins, Fear Street, The Baby-sitter’s Club, The Saddle Club, and a plethora of outstanding books by Judy Blume, Christopher Pike, Madeline Engel, etc. And in the years before that, the YA genre was just a bit smaller, consisting of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc. But it was nothing like it is today. Today, you go to the bookstore (people still go to bookstores, right?) and you are automatically blown away by the sheer number of novels in the Young Adult section. It is freaking overwhelming. And, like, so many vampires…
It’s a known fact that people read up. When I was twelve I was reading Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Piers Anthony and a slew of others. Yet I still had a soft spot for Young Adult Fiction and there were three different types of books that I was always coming back to.
The first one was The Baby-sitter’s Club. From age 8 to…well, I’ll admit, I still have more than a few copies of the series on my shelf, I was infatuated with this gaggle of girls and their baby-sitting club. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I had no interest in children, I had only baby-sat twice in my life, and there wasn’t one character that I could really identify with. Yet I eagerly devoured the series, buying or borrowing every book and reading them religiously until they jumped the shark (I think this happened when a new girl called Abby joined the club, somewhere around Book #90).
The next set of books I was always picking up was The Saddle Club (Book #6, Dude Ranch, awesome). This really needs no explanation as I have been an avid horseback rider since I was six years old and would read everything and anything to do with horses. Also, I’m beginning to think I had a thing for clubs. My best friend has a document from 1989 when I named her vice-president of my horse club. The pet-sitting club soon came after. Of course, the only clubs I was ever in were the ones I started (cough *control freak*).
And last, but most certainly not least, were Christopher Pike’s books. I am not ashamed to admit I still read these books like candy. Sure they are now dated young adult, but they were always a darker, more horrifying young adult that not only scared you with the supernatural (and murder) but with realistic topics as well. And they were terrifying. The book “Monster” has some pretty gruesome scenes in the first couple of pages…and they continued throughout the whole story. But there was always a touch of believability as the characters were usually dealing with something relatable. I think Mr. Pike’s hold on the horror angle of the young adult market has not been challenged as of late.
Now, I did like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series a lot, but he just wasn’t Pike. I liked Pike because his stories were out there, I mean, do you remember “Whisper of Death?” Anyone who has read that book knows what I am talking about. But R.L. Stine always had a logical explanation whenever it came to anything supernatural related. Again, it was a fine horror series and I’m pretty sure I read most of his books and enjoyed them (especially “Lights Out”, “Ski Weekend” and “The Wrong Number”) but I’ve never been a fan of anything too rational or easily explained.
Out of all the YA books I’ve read, The BSC and Christopher Pike were the ones that would influence my writing, particularly with The Experiment in Terror Series. The BSC because it drew me to the personal intimacy of the first-person narrative, and characters that evolved and grew throughout a series of books (don’t tell me there was no growth in the BSC when Mary-Anne Spier started off as a meek, pig-tailed daddy’s girl then evolved into a pixie-haired she-witch). And I always liked the description of the character’s clothes (might explain my stint as a fashion blogger).
The Christopher Pike influence is a lot more obvious. Though I don’t write the EIT series as a Young Adult series (it’s a lot more nebulous than that), I greatly admired Pike’s ability to churn out these books that didn’t gloss over issues such as teenage sex and drug use. It was realistic, even back then, and that realism is why I think they worked so well. Because if you build a world that’s real, it makes supernatural or horrifying events much more believable. I hope some of that has eked out into my writing. I’m also influenced by his bizarre way of thinking, just as I am influenced by weird music, strange films, etc. I find the weird, out-of-place scenes and moments to be just as disturbing as something on the nose.
I think there are a lot of Young Adult gems out there in the oversaturated marketplace of today, but it’s nice to take a look back and see where the trend came from. Dated or not, a lot of these books still deserved to be picked up and read with gusto.
Buy Darkhouse by Karina Halle: Amazon (Print) / Goodreads (epub) / Kindle
Karina’s sadly neglected personal blog can be found here: www.ontheblogbandwagon.blogspot.com
Karina’s not so neglected writing blog can be found here: www.experimentinterror.com