By: Eileen Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary Paranormal
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours
Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.
But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling – her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts.
Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
Unraveling Isobel is such a fun paranormal story, despite the potentially heavy material. It reminds me a bit of Frost by Marianna Baer, with seemingly supernatural occurrences that may or may not be supernatural after all, but it takes a much more lighthearted approach.
The ghost story side of Unraveling Isobel was done really well, and I was right there with Isobel as she began to dig deeper into the history of her new home, wondering what in the world is going on. The story isn’t so creepy that you won’t be able to sleep, but it’s just enough to maybe give you the shivers if you’re reading at night.
The writing is clever and engaging, and Isobel is a great narrator with a wonderful sense of humor. She's snarky and funny, and entirely relatable. She could be naïve at times, which was a little frustrating, but she grew a lot throughout the novel. The book is hard to put down, with new twists and discoveries at every turn. I finished it in just a few hours and had absolutely no desire to stop reading.
I do wish there had been a little more build up to the romance. When you have a love story between step-siblings there’s SO much potential for angst and confusion and I feel like a lot more could have been done with that. Once Isobel and Nate got together they were both just like “Well, whatever, we’re not actually related,” and I just wanted to see more hesitation and uncertainty. I really enjoyed Nate as a character though. He starts off as a bit of a jerk, but as he warms up to Isobel and they start spending more time together you can’t help but grow to love him. The friendship between the two of them is fantastic.
The parents in this book also have some serious issues. There are times when I just want to be able to crawl inside certain novels and smack a few characters around, and this was definitely one of them. Although it would have been nice if we could have gotten to know Isobel’s dad better; there’s definitely the potential for a great relationship there.
With clever writing and a totally engrossing storyline, Unraveling Isobel is an awesome modern day ghost story. Though not a mind-blowing novel, it’s a fun, light read and I’d definitely recommend it.