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Reviewed by:
  • Dark Souls
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer
Morris, Paula. Dark Souls. Point/Scholastic, 2011. 292p. ISBN 978-0-545-25132-7 $17.99 Ad Gr. 7–10.

The English city of York is reputedly one of the most haunted places on earth, and, unfortunately for sixteen-year-old Miranda, she is able to immediately confirm that fact upon her arrival. After coming close to death and losing her best friend in a car accident earlier in the year, Miranda can now see dead people, and York has plenty of them, often victims of terrible, violent ends. In just the first few days of her trip, Miranda meets the ghost of St. Margaret Clitherow, a Catholic martyr who was crushed to death in 1586, and the tortured spirits of several hundred Jews killed at York Castle in the twelfth century. Fortunately for her sanity, Miranda also meets Nick, a dark and brooding (and living) boy who shares her gift and offers his assistance in navigating this new reality. Soon, however, it becomes clear that Nick is the one in need of help: an evil spirit convinces him to commit a heinous act, and it seems that Miranda is the only one that can stop him. The cobblestone streets and shadowed alleys of York are vividly brought to life here, and the nods to actual historical events as fodder for ghostly happenings make for an atmospheric tale. Indeed, the city itself is the book’s best-drawn character, largely outshining Miranda as the bland but necessary protagonist. While the setting is deliciously absorbing, the descriptive language never quite translates to the more emotional aspects of Miranda’s life (e.g., her grief, uncertainty, etc.) and the scenes in which she is actually interacting with anyone come off as stiff and ineffective. Still, the sense of place is impressive, and Anglophiles who like their literary travel on the spooky side may very well seek to wander the streets of York with Miranda.



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