Thank you NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for the eARC!
Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.
There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.
She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.
She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.
She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.
I admit. I felt very love/hate with this one. For the first three chapters or so I really didn’t understand why this girl was in the worst house imaginable (forgive me, I downloaded this about 3 months before reading and forgot the blurb) and went into this thoroughly annoyed. Keeping the character in the dark without her being able to learn anything, just to keep us in the dark irked me. I spent those 3 chapters going why the kids were made to work and punished in the horrible place, and what she’d done to earn that fate.
THEN when we get to main plot it picks up. Temple’s writing is great, I really do enjoy it. She brings out character and feeling, which was why I felt claustrophobic for Echo but it was also so vivid I had to skip a few pages because I am very claustrophobic in real life. That sort of atmosphere transferred.
I still don’t get why the kids were thrown into a house of punishment at the start. No matter their behaviour in life, what sort of punishment is that? But the rest of the story picked up enough for me to keep interested, if not skimming a few.