By Cynthia Ayala
Dark spirits are haunting Amelia and they threaten to hurt everyone she cares for. Her only chance: run away with the people she loves. But the demons hunting her have no boundaries and will chase her every which way to bring her to her knees and make her their slave because with her power, she could help them take the world of the living. Amelia has one chance, and it lies in the hands of stranger, a Voodoo priestess who has her own reasons for helping her. Can she be trusted or is Amelia destined to fall to the hands of evil?
Published June 5, 2012 by HarperCollins, Arise is the second novel in Tara Hudson’s young adult paranormal romanceHereafter series.
This novel is certainly an interesting read, good in some respects but lacking in others and misses the strongest element at it disposal: ghosts. There should be some thrilling moments in this novel, but what could be tension filled moments of petrification turn into very dense narrative that lose some of the suspense and thrilling moments. After all this is the story of Amanda, a ghost who die a very tragic death who is being hunted by what she calls ”demons,” but the reader really has no idea of what they are except that they are familiar of The Morrigan of Irish mythology. They are frightening beings of evil and Hudson uses her hand at writing to detail and structure them wonderfully so they are frightful images, but throughout the novel, they are missed, hardly present, the shadow that lingers over the horizon but is hardly address. Yes, Amelia is constantly worrying about them hurting those she cares about, like her very-much-alive boyfriend Joshua. It leaves for a lot of tension, that’s for sure, and Hudson focuses a lot on the relationship between the two which is really the selling point of the novel.
The relationship is very complex, and not because it’s about a relationship between a ghost and a living person, it’s complex because of the emotional complexities that are in any relationship. That makes the relationship here very believable. Amelia is just a girl who is caught in this impossible situation that forces her to really question her relationship and what she means to Joshua and what he means to her. At the roots, it is a love story, that’s very true, but it’s a love story built within the layers of finding one’s identity which can sometimes be lost in a relationship, and for Amelia, it is especially hard because she’s caught between the realms of death that are only making it more difficult for her to figure out who she is. It is a journey of self-discovery for her as much as it is about her trying to figure out a way to save and protect the people she loves.
However, while her journey of self discovery is well done with the perfect amount of tension, they are in New Orleans and the ghostly feel, the supernatural feel is not fully utilized. There are some brilliant scenes with the demons or ghosts haunting her, but those scenes are few and far apart, which is a shame because they are written perfectly. The supernatural element is there, it’s strong, it’s frightening, and very hypnotic to read. They are strong scenes, but they are not utilized enough. New Orleans is the capital of supernatural literature, so for her to have this setting written wonderfully, and to capture the loud and colorful visuals of this place but not capitalize on the supernatural is a bit unfortunate.
At the end of the day though, all those faults are somewhat forgivable because the scenes draw the reader in, they paint such a strong visual and ground the reader in. Moreover, the believability of the relationships here are also written very well because their voices and narratives are so strong. (★★★☆☆ | B-)