Author: Shelley R Pickens
Published: August 2014 by Melange Books – Fire and Ice YA
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Aimee doesn’t like to touch people. One touch and she sees their past. One graze over her skin and she can see all the good and bad deeds a person has ever done. It isn’t until a bomb explodes during lunch that she realizes exactly how many dirty secrets the students in her school harbors-or exactly how far one of them would go to keep his secrets safe.
For all that she is caring and warmhearted, Aimee is a loner and keeps people literally at arm’s length. It took her only friend, Dejana, a year to break through her reserve. Aimee is cursed with the ability to see, in detail, the memories of anyone she touches skin to skin. To others she appears to be weird and insular but the Goth attire of all black with long sleeves and gloves, whatever the weather, is her protection from personal contact.
So, I embrace a life of isolation. I shun human contact, afraid to let anyone close. The other kids tease me relentlessly and call me a freak behind my back, but I don’t care. If they only knew exactly what kind of freak I am, they would run the other way and never look back. Since I arrived at this school, I have encouraged their jeers, happy to do anything to keep them away from me……..For me, that kind of life is normal. It’s not a matter of fear; it’s all about survival.
When a bomb explodes in the school cafeteria, Aimee inadvertently touches someone in the ensuing confusion and chaos and is assaulted by horrific memories of torture and murder. Aimee doesn’t know who she touched, but realises it must be one of her fellow students who is the sadistic killer of her visions. She must find him before he kills again and enlists the help of Dejana and a new friend, Leah, who is a computer whizz. As Aimee recalls the killer’s memories and the friends’ gathering of information increases, it becomes apparent the killer is stalking Aimee and she is to be his next target.
Aimee is the main protagonist. She is very strong-willed and a definite survivor considering how her life has been up to this point. Most of the story is told from her perspective with occasional passages from the killer’s point of view as well as one or two others. Aimee, Dejana and Leah are the strongest characters and are at the forefront, and as the story progresses more is revealed through the memories Aimee has absorbed and the mystery and tension build quickly. I did have my suspicions as to the killer’s identity but the other twists were a complete surprise.
I enjoyed the book very much, although it was quite graphic and gory for the YA genre, but maybe that’s just my squeamishness surfacing. Even so, I would recommend this for older teens. Having said that, it’s a solid debut novel with good pacing and a distinct concept. I’ll be interested to see where the sequel takes Aimee.
Shelley Pickens has been in love with anything and everything on the dark side of paranormal since the time she learned to read. After 15 years of teaching Spanish to high schoolers, she decided to take her unique firsthand knowledge of young adults and apply it to her passion for creative writing and fantasy. When not teaching or writing, Shelley likes to spend time with her husband and two beautiful children in Atlanta, Ga. Her escape from reality is her love of complex thriller and science fiction TV series like Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow. In her spare time she is an avid reader of all types of genres. THE HAUNTING OF SECRETS is her debut novel.