Tuesday, March 1, 2016

#Tuesday Review - Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker (Young Adult, Southern Gothic)

Series: Beware the Wild # 2
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Southern Gothic

Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. Even though she and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical swamp Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been showing up and spooking everyone in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.

But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the King family.

As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp that had previously cast her aside now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.

*Main Characters: Candace (Candy) Pickens, Sterling Saucier, Abigail Beale, Heath Durham, Gabe and Nova King.

*Setting: Sticks, Louisiana

*Summary* Behold the Bones, by Natalie C. Parker, is the second installment in the Beware the Wild series. While Beware the Wild was from Sterling's perspective, this story is from Candace Pickens. Every year, on her birthday, Candy's rather large family of cousins, aunts, and uncles get together to reminisce about family members who have been taken by the family curse. Every year, Candy gets to remember that her birth led to the dead of her own grandfather. Yet, no-one has really took the time to explain the curse to Candy.

Several months ago, Candy and her friends Sterling and Abigail brought back Sterling's brother Phin from the swamp that took him and transformed Abigail into a gatorgirl. Strangeness is actually normal in the town of Sticks. You never know when ghosts, or haunts will show up. Candy is an interesting character to say the least. Candy is able to name a slew of ghostly tales without hesitation. But, she can't see them unlike her friends and apparently everyone else in town. She also can't be affected by the Shine like Sterling and Abigail can. The Shine has a way of getting the hell out of the way whenever Candy is around.

After a rash of ghostly sightings around town, a TV ghost hunter comes to town looking into what is happening. Candy makes things even more interesting when she runs into a ghost named Mad Mary and appears to vanquish the ghost in front of a rather large audience. If that weren't enough, the new family in town has its own agenda, and Candy make be key to what they are looking for. What is this family really up to? Why is Candy the key? Why is the Shine suddenly taking a SHINE to her?

*Thoughts* I am more than happy that Parker was able to write yet another book with Sticks as the background. I do hope that she will able to write a third book with Abigail as the lead character. There is so much more to Abigail than meets the eye. The second thing you should know is that both Behold the Bones and Beware the Wild have a rather large diverse cast. From Sterling's father being a black Deputy Sheriff, to Abigail being gay and perhaps finding her partner.

This is a town that doesn't seem to care what your skin color is, as long as you don't bring trouble to their doors. Parker doesn't hesitate in making her characters a bit on the dark side. There is plenty of drinking, some random acts of sex, and a bit of redneck fun which is all normal for folks in the deep South. I love the idea of stories in a small town. It makes them more realistic since the population is also rather small. 

Candy is probably the most realistic character I've read about in awhile. She's got issues, and those issues are so disheartening. You can't but feel a bit of emotion for her or her desire to get the hell out of town. Candy is definitely cynical, she's definitely carefree, and she's devious to a fault at times. She is also loyal to her friends, and would walk a mile in a hurricane to help them. As the story rolls on, Candy becomes more weary of the Kings, especially Nova, and why she seems to gravitate towards her.There is something dangerously wrong with Nova, and one wrong move can have deadly consequences.

There's no real hint of romance in this book. Sterling is firmly with Heath. Abigail may have found hers, yet Candy explores all sorts of options. Whether the last one remains solid, is anyone's guess. I think there is a whole lot more about the King family that could have been explored, but what came out, was enough to make me really nervous for Candy's health. This time out, the swamp is only a tertiary character. While it is still important, and a key scene takes place there, it doesn't grab hold of you and drag you inside like the first book.

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