Saturday, June 17, 2023

Review: What Stays Buried by Suzanne Young

by Suzanne Young
Release Date: March 7, 2023
2023 HarperCollins
Kindle Edition; 272 Pages
ISBN: 978-0063257122
ASIN: B0B397R89P
Audiobook: B0B357PJ8Y
Genre: Fiction / Horror / Ghosts / Juvenile
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Twelve-year-old Calista Wynn will lose her ability to speak with the dead on her thirteenth birthday.

And with only a few weeks left, children have started going missing.

When Calista meets The Tall Lady—an angry spirit with a grudge against Calista, her family, and the entire town—she knows she’s found the ghost responsible for the disappearances.

It’s up to Calista, the only one who can see The Tall Lady, to stop her. If she doesn’t, Calista won’t just lose her powers… she’ll lose everyone she has left.
My Thoughts
What Stays Buried was a fun, emotional paranormal book that I would have definitely loved as a kid.  Calista Wynn, soon to turn thirteen, will lose her ability to speak with ghosts, something that will have a huge impact on her for reasons that are explained in the book and for which I don't want to give away. It added an emotional impact for which I wasn't prepared, as I was expecting simply a ghost story, a paranormal adventure, but this little emotional side story added a lot of depth to the story that I loved. 
Calista was a fun character to get to know and I loved her spunk and her protective nature as her little sister started to gain her own powers.  With a curse on the family stretching back decades, Calista knew she was going to lose her powers when she turned thirteen, something that was terrifying, especially as a new case lands in her lap just weeks before her birthday. I love how Calista is unsure of herself, but enters each situation at full speed, knowing she has to protect her family and her friends, no matter what. When children begin disappearing, and she starts seeing those children as ghosts, she fears the worst. Knowing she can't work alone, she teams up with an unexpected ally, and I loved how the friendship develops throughout the story.  The characters were fun, with a depth to them I wasn't expecting and I enjoyed getting to know them all.
The plot was interesting and flowed very well.  I thought it was intricate considering this is a juvenile fiction novel, and it was definitely on the scarier side. My favourite genre is horror, so I am a bit biased when it comes to that genre as I never think it is scary enough, but I do think the young reader will find it scary, with ghosts appearing, demon possession, children being kidnapped, a curse, and murderous ghosts.  Some of the settings were downright creepy, including the marsh.  Some people do get injured, but because it's not the humans doing the injuring, I do think young readers will be more understanding of the events and why things are happening. The story flowed very well, and it was never boring; in fact, I read the book in one sitting as I couldn't put it down. 
What Stays Buried was a lot scarier than I thought it would be, but that was what I loved about this book.  However, I wasn't a fan of the ending as I am one for emotional endings even if I did enjoy the emotional way the whole ghosts thing resolved itself. I thought that was enough, but it continued right to the end, something I thought was out of step for the rest of the book which was actually spookier than I thought it would be, to my pleasant surprise.  I know some reviewers took issue with the unsupervised summoning of dead spirits, something to do with occult practices, but I don't care about any of that.  Gosh, how many people tried to summer Bloody Mary in the mirror when they were ten-years-old and had to hide under their blankets for a week? That is the fun of reading this stuff, so enjoy!!