Jul 30, 2013
Title: The Weight of Souls
Author: Bryony Pearce
Publication Date: August 6th, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: From Publisher, For Review (via Netgalley)
16 year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her… She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
And then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret-society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… And where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death. Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him? And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
A number of current YA stories have used a curse in order to hinder a certain character from finding happiness or love. But not this one. 16 year old Taylor Oh is cursed – meaning she can see the dead. She can touch the dead. And she is one of the only people who can free them from staying as ghosts for eternity. The dead are the dead for a reason… and sometimes that reason is that they were intentionally killed. Murdered. In a moment of weakness, one of Taylor’s ancestors made an agreement that altered not only his life, but that of relatives in the generations that follow. Taylor is unlucky. She is one of them, one of the only people who have the ability to avenge the death of these ghosts. Should a ghost touch her, then a dark mark is transferred onto her hand. And she has three weeks to transfer this mark to whoever is responsible for the ghost’s death. Or she will be the one that is taken by the Darkness, rather than whoever the mark was truly meant for.
So Taylor must go to school, avoid as many ghosts as possible, and somehow convince her father that this curse is real. Though Taylor’s school life isn’t very memorable. She has one friend in Hannah, and is so low on the social ladder that the most attention she gets is the bullying and ridicule she receives from Justin Hargreaves and his friends. All of a sudden, Justin is dead. And he has unknowingly transferred his mark to Taylor. But this is different… because Justin isn’t completely sure that he has been murdered. And now that he isn’t the heartless bully that he was when he was alive, Taylor finds in him acceptance and trust. In their mission to determine what exactly happened to Justin that night, Taylor and Justin must become anointed with the V Club – the very club that Justin was a part of, the one he was so desperate to leave – all before the Darkness comes for its mark.
The Weight of Souls is a very interesting read. The concept of the curse is very unique and I found that Pearce thought out the history of the curse thoroughly, and it was explained very well by the end of the story. The backstory confused me a bit, and I felt that the switching between the journal and Taylor’s POV broke the flow and pace of Taylor’s thoughts and views. The flashback sequences, while I understood were necessary, seemed more like a disruption as they were in between Taylor’s POV. It would have been better to separate the flashbacks into smaller chapters in between.
I enjoyed seeing a protagonist with an ethnicity that is not common in YA literature today, but I was a bit irritated that Taylor’s mixed ethnicity seemed to be her defining characteristic. I would have liked to see more character development on her part, as well as with the secondary characters, who seemed a bit flat and one-dimensional. The character that I enjoyed the most out of the story was actually Justin. His development from his death to the very end of the book is both realistic and wonderful. He grew into a very loyal, likable character and it was not rushed, and I really enjoyed reading that (though not his reason for treating Taylor the way he did, that could have been better).
Bryony Pearce has written a story of a teenage girl who is only trying to live her life, to get through the day without ghosts or murderers or bullies or smart dads bringing in any complications. Taylor handles her problems as best as she can and grows quite a bit as a person in the process, and for that reason I appreciated her character and the story that came with it. I will keep an eye out for a sequel to this book, as there are quite a few loose ends by the final page. For readers of YA, paranormal and mythology, I do think that you will find The Weight of Souls as a worthy read.
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