Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl – Paige McKenzie

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, #1)Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house . . . there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mom believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort . . .

If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?

As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

I heard about Paige McKenzie through her hugely popular YouTube show, of which I only watched half of the first season. I also saw her when she was an author attending the Vancouver Writer’s Fest. Paige McKenzie is an interesting young woman so I was really interested in her horror novel based on her YouTube show. I actually had a galley from Netgalley which I hadn’t had time to read, but I picked it up this October.

I really like horror, but this seemed like a typical haunted house novel. I wasn’t expecting a lot from this book, and while it didn’t exceed my expectations, it didn’t let them down either. The book is written for young adults, but I think it’s written for a younger audience. It’s a pretty predictable YA novel. There’s nothing unique or exciting about it. McKenzie has created a new bit of mythology to explain Sunshine’s abilities in the form of a “luiseach”, but it was thoroughly underwhelming mostly due to the fact that a luiseach has both a mentor (which is understandable), but also has a “protector”. It turns the mythology from being a self-reliant woman to being a damsel-in-distress.

Also, since this is a YA novel, there’s an obvious love interest, who is cute, but not too cute and completely non-threatening. Of course, both Sunshine and her male counterpart are quirky outsiders with interests that don’t match anyone else. Add a couple of expected YA heroine traits (self-conscious rambling in front of a love interest, use of weird phrases while nervous – “blah”, constant referring to herself as never fitting in, constant self-esteem issues) and you’ve got this book in a nutshell.

The plot was also completely predictable as well. While I liked the use of new mythology, it was just tiring to get to the big reveal and the climax was both really short and really underwhelming. I felt like there was no lead up to it, and when it did happen it ended really quickly.

I think this book trilogy (because of course it’s a trilogy) will be very successful for fans of Paige McKenzie’s show, but for outsiders there isn’t enough to hook the reader, especially if you’re not the target audience. There isn’t enough character development or a unique plot, and the use of tired YA tropes pretty much ensures I won’t be continuing with the series.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

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