Hello, hello! I’ve got a brand new review for you today, so if you’re a fan of Young Adult Paranormal with ghosts, gore and diverse representation (queer and disability rep), then this one might be for you!
I mean, look at that cover (imagine it with gold foil, because the paperback is gorgeous):
In haunted York, even the dead have something to fear.
Sixteen-year-old Charlie has problems. He’s a seer-of-spirits in York, the most haunted city in Europe, and all his friends are ghosts. His sisters have glittered his prosthesis, again, and his crush is dating someone new.
On top of that, famous spirits are mysteriously vanishing from York’s alleys and snickleways. Charlie is determined to stay out of it, but Sam, the irritating new seer in town, expects him to track down who – or what – is responsible and uncover the dark purpose behind the disappearances.
When a ghost Charlie is indebted to also vanishes, he has no choice but to face the shadows. And his growing feelings for Sam. The boys must be willing to risk it all to save York’s spirits, because their adversary will stop at nothing to complete their devastating plan. Afterlives are at stake, and Charlie is running out of time…
With echoes of Anna Dressed in Blood, The Fell of Dark and Cemetery Boys, Rosie Talbot’s debut is an irrefutable must-have for all YA bookshelves.
I gave Sixteen Souls 5 stars, I loved the detailed mythology of spectres that Talbot created, it was really original and unique, and the steady, natural unveiling of the world through the MC, Charlie’s eyes is done so well. We learn more about his ability as a seer at the same time as he does, which is my favourite way to discover a new world (I’m a big portal fantasy fan, as you’ll know if you’ve read my book The Fair Queen).
I also adored the setting of York, being a proud Yorkshire lass myself (and having an upcoming story planned to be set in York), this book really inspired me with how the setting became a character all of its own. The spooks and spectres of York made the perfect supporting cast to the story, the Mouldy Oldies were brilliant, and the whole concept of death loops and tethered souls was so interesting.
The plot was really gripping, with plenty of action, tension and twists. At times, some of the plot elements were a little convoluted and there were at least a couple of characters I think could have been cut completely because they just seemed to be included to add to the chaos rather than for any good reason (although, I will say I got the impression there could be sequels coming and hopefully we’ll get more of an explanation about those characters in book two). The climax also got a little messy, but I can forgive that as it did bring together a lot of plot threads and tie things up well, for the most part.
All in all, I loved every minute of this book and I burned through it quicker than I’ve read anything in a while. It was fun and exciting, with a sweet budding romance between the two MMCs (Charlie is a gay amputee, and Sam is a trans man). If you love a twisty, turny ghost story and you’re good with regional slang (I could obviously read this book in the voice it was intended, being from the local area, but if you’re in the US you might struggle at first with some of the phraseology) then I can highly recommend Sixteen Souls. The blurb says it’s perfect for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, which is my other absolute favourite YA paranormal ghost story, so if you’ve read and loved that then get stuck in!