Book Review: Portraits of Celina by Sue Withing

17261579Title: Portraits of Celina
Author: Sue Withing
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

“It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt.”
Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it?
A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

In Portraits of Celina, Bayley and her family move into the old O’Malley estate on the countryside after her father dies, to try and make a fresh start. But a fresh start might be the last thing they’ll ever get. Bayley moves into a room who used to belong to Celina O’Malley, a girl who disappeared when she was sixteen years old. It’s now forty years later, but it seems like the past won’t be put to rest. Bayley looks exactly like Celina – at least so do people tell her – and she starts wearing Celina’s old clothes, and eventually even hearing Celina’s voice. What’s going on? What does Celina’s ghost want from Bayley, and what happened that made her disappear forty years ago?

I’m a sucker for these kind of stories – YA paranormal mystery with ghosts. And Portraits of Celina is a good one at that: the mystery, while not overly-complicated isn’t too easy either (I only figured it out past the halfway mark), the ghost is genuinely chilling at times, and the title is given a whole new meaning throughout the book – which I loved. The quarrels between Bayley and her siblings were awesome too. They sounded like a real family, and although they argued often, they did have each other’s back. This made Bayley seem like a more realistic character. Her emotions seemed real too, especially her pain over losing her Dad.

Then, on to the bad stuff. The romance was too cliché. Oliver and Bayley have literally nothing in common, and Bayley acts like a weirdo for most of the book, which is no surprise considering she’s being haunted by the ghost of her deceased cousin. Yet, Oliver isn’t in the least deterred by all this weird behavior, which doesn’t sound very plausible. Their dialogue seemed childish too, and honestly, I could’ve done without the romance. The story and characters are intriguing enough without.

I enjoyed this YA paranormal mystery, some of the scenes where chilling, but for the most part, it wasn’t too scary. Fans of ghost stories will probably like it too.


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