Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, They Stay by Claire Fraise with Giveaway!

Today's read heads into the spooky world of ghosts and disappearances. This is the first book in a new series from a fresh and very talented author. I have to admit that when I agreed to review this one, I didn't see this amazing tale coming. (Yep, I'm already going to scream out that I gave this one 5-stars).

Now, this one isn't only about ghosts. There are some very tough issues included as well...triggers. We have family/child abuse, drug abuse, death, violence, and more. But these are handled in an appropriate manner for the young adult audience. 

by Claire Fraise
They Stay Series, #1
YA Supernatural, Thriller 

A suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.

What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?

Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.

When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?

But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.

And a ghost told her where he is.

As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.

THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.

Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.

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I was expecting a ghostly read with several harder themes woven in, and all that from a teen drama direction. What I didn't expect was this read.

The tale is told from two directions. First, there's Shiloh, the daughter of the town's Sheriff and an abusive father/husband, and then there's Francesca, the 'crazy', ghost-seeing misfit who lives with her brother in a trailer park. The story dances between these two characters in seemingly two different plot lines, which later somewhat converge and let everything really take off. Along the way, two other characters, Miles and Jonah, get pulled into Shiloh's attempt to find and save her little brother, and round off the group marvelously. 

I'm usually not a huge fan of novels, which head in with more character depth, since this often steers things into a slower lane. This book, however, gives the characters tons of depth, and this, in turn, builds the haunting and disturbing atmosphere up more than any action or quickened pace ever could. Both characters are in difficult positions, and the emotional connection to them allows everything else to take root. Even side characters hold vivid personality, which, mixing everything into the dynamics of a small town, allows the reader to really sink into the setting and scenes. 

The first part of the book did feel a bit disjointed as the plot constantly switched from Shiloh's difficult family life and the horrid desperation when her little brother disappears, to Francesca's paranormal tilt and the strange meeting with graveyard ghosts. It comes across as two different stories, but knowing that they'll somehow collide is part of what makes it so interesting. Plus, this isn't a young adult book in the same 'drama' sense that often hits these novels. The characters are teens and do act immature as well as hold usual teen reactions, but they come across naturally.  The author tackles the issues of abuse, death, drugs, and other harsh problems with as much realistic care as she places in the more haunting ghost aspects and kidnappings. It creates a very original tale, which is a treat to get swallowed up in. I'm looking forward to the next book and to see what the author has in store next because this was an amazing beginning to the series.

And here she is...

Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at clairefraise.com.

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Giselle said...

This sounds like a really unique and thought provoking read! Great review!

Heather N. Quinn said...

Sounds like an interesting premise which is sure to pique the interest of teens and young adults who like paranormal thrillers.