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I Belong


Review: Haunted by Joy Preble

Haunted (#2) by Joy PrebleTitle: Haunted

Author: Joy Preble

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Dreaming Anastasia Series (Book 2)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

Format: Paperback, 290 Pages

ISBN-10: 1402244681 (Sourcebooks)

ISBN-13: 978-1402244681 (Sourcebooks)

Reviewed by: Sheila

Synopsis

“Anne Michaelson “is trying to forget everything that happened last year. But it’s hard to do when her heart aches for Ethan “and there’s a wild-haired woman stalking her…”

“Ethan Kozninsky “is embracing his newfound mortality. But something is drawing him back to the girl he left behind–“back to Anne and back to the magic…”

A mysterious stranger is hunting Anne wherever she goes. No one sees her but Anne. When she searches for the woman’s identity, Anne exposes secrets about her own life– things that will change her life forever. And when the gorgeous Ethan returns, her life gets a lot more complicated.

Anne thought her journey with the Romanov family had ended, “but it was just the beginning…”

Quick & Dirty: A rusalka is “haunting” Anne while she tries to fight her destiny.  Two men also fight for her heart.

Opening SentenceThrough the skull in my fireplace, I watch her.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

It has been a year after the incident in Dreaming Anastasia and Anne has been trying her best to forget that it ever happened.  Unfortunately, weird things are beginning all over again.  The powers that Ethan told her would go away are not only still there, but are growing stronger.  She is also dreaming again of Baba Yaga and her amazing hut.  If that wasn’t enough to give Anne a bad feeling, then the crazy wet lady that’s seems to be stalking her most likely will.  Just great.  What could “fate” and “destiny” want with Anne this time?  Hasn’t she done enough?

The story should have been done.  Anastasia was released and Viktor was taken in her stead.  So why are strange things still happening to Anne?  This book is where Anne is forced to admit the path that destiny has lain out before.  Up until now, Anne could walk away from her “purpose” and live the life of an ordinary teen: going to school, part-time jobs, hanging out with friends, and dating boys.  Now she must not only decide, but also commit.  This book follows her struggle against the truth of her situation.  What will Anne choose in the end, a life less than ordinary and safe or one that is extraordinary and dangerous?  Does she even have an option?

Anne’s struggle mirrors in a love triangle as well.  Ben is a cute guy that adores her.  He is smart, funny and not aware of any of Anne’s past “craziness.”  They have been dating for some time now and things are looking good.  That is, until Ethan walks back into Anne’s life.  Ben represents all that Anne thinks that she wants and Ethan is all that she wants to hide.  Her love for Ethan is mixed up within her feelings about magic and it’s like.  While Anne deliberates between the two men, she is also pushing each of them on either side of the line.  It parallels her inner turmoil over magic and its place within her life.  If she gives up Ben, does that mean she is giving up any chance of reclaiming her life before Anastasia?  Could she and Ethan sustain a normal relationship even without all the extra life-and-death madness blowing around them?

The use of Russian folktales makes this series stand apart from the rest.  Not only do we have the famed Baba Yaga involved, we also get to see some rusalka.  Rusalka’s are the Russian version of mermaids.  Their reason for being are tragic and their purpose equally so.  They lure people out into a body of water and then they drown them.  So why is a rusalka stalking Anne?  Why does she know so much about Anne and her mother?  Where does she fit in the grand scheme of things?

The infusion of this aspect makes the story a little more complicated than the first book.  There are so many new twists and turns that pressures Anne into new and more difficult decisions.  Anne’s character is bombarded with “secrets within secrets” and “stories within stories” that reflect in the swift pace of the book.

The inclusion of Baba Yaga’s point of view brings a wonderful new voice to an already enriched tale.  Each new discovery is explored and related by three separate characters that the reader can experience.  Baba Yaga brings a more surreal and otherworldly aspect that the first was lacking.  Without this added view point, this story would feel overdone.  Baba Yaga introduces us to the idea of “more to come.”  Anne’s position becomes that much loftier and nobler than before.

Haunted is a rich blend of mystery, magic, and the bonds between people.  Preble brings forth more than a few surprises that leave the reader breathless at the end.  The ghosts of unresolved issues will haunt us until the next installment.

Notable Scene:

“No!” I scream.  I know it’s not real, and I can hear Tell yelling at me to stop, by I’m wading in after my mother anyway-wading up to my waist in the sludgy pond water before Ethan can grab me and pull me back.  All I can see is the image of my mother disappearing in the water.  It blends in my head with the image of Ben at the bottom of the pool.  It doesn’t look like swimming.  It looks like drowning.

The rusalka resurfaces as suddenly as she went under, floating on her back, arms stretched out.  Still as death.  It’s really her again, the lilac gown sagging beneath her, wild black curls dipping this way and that in the current.  For one brief second, she raises her head, opens her eyes, and looks at me.  “Please,” she says.  “Oh, please help me.”  And then she’s gone.

Ethan drags me up onto the grass.  “It wasn’t real,” he says to me over and over.

Tess just strokes my hair and tells me it will be okay.

“I don’t know what she wants from me.  I don’t know how to help her.”  I realize I’m not sure which woman I really mean.

So I do what I’ve wanted to do since I first saw Ethan this afternoon.  I sit down in the grass, my wet denim skirt heavy against my legs, and cry.

Dreaming Anastasia Series:

1. Dreaming Anastasia

2. Haunted

3. Anastasia Forever

FTC Advisory: Sourcebooks graciously provided me with a copy of Haunted.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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