I bought this book out of pure curiosity. More than a few people remarked that it was the best book that Evernight Teen had published since it started up. This was enough for me to seek it out to see for myself. I don't do spoilers so I won't get into plot details other than to say that the blurb describes the story well. I don't read a whole lot of paranormal or YA, but this book was enjoyable, and I would recommend it to fans of the genre. I will most likely try another book by this author in the future
“Stephanie Lawton is a writer to watch in the YA genre. Shrapnel kept me turning pages as quickly as I could!”—USA Today Best-selling author Cynthia Eden
"Shrapnel is a dark, twisted ghost story with the richness of a Southern Gothic and a super seductive romance that leaves you dying for more." Jennifer Dee, NovelThoughtsBlog.com
It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.
Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.
None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.
14+ for brief violence and sexuality
On the balcony, heavy night air carries the sounds of crickets and frogs. The ancient railing is solid beneath my fingers but slick from humidity. The wet dog/rotting fish stench of a nearby swamp blows past and rustles the live oaks in the front yard. The leaves are so loud that I almost don’t hear it.
My name—soft, slow and deep.
I jump back from the railing and look around. The hairs on my neck and arms stand on end, but I can’t see the threat. I haven’t sensed a thing in my room since Ashley commandeered ghost boy. Slowly, so I don’t make a sound, I inch forward toward the railing again. Whatever it is, it’s down there in the dark. From the balcony, I’m able to see the front yard, the side of the main part of the house, and a massive live oak. Underneath it stands a man.
It must be Riley or Ward taking a smoke break, but I don’t see the tiny orange glow of a cigarette. It’s too dark to make out details. I swat a mosquito on my bare arm, and that’s when the man turns, looking up at me. Into me. His eyes seem to travel over every inch, memorizing details. Despite the shadows, I know a slow smile of approval spreads across his face and it makes my breathing ragged. I see him with my eyes, but also in my head. I can’t look away. I can’t shut him out. I can’t even move or speak.
“Dylanie,” he drawls, “let me in.”
Invisible fingers caress my cheek and smooth my hair away from my face. My mind races, but my body’s reaction doesn’t match. It’s like they separate from each other. I close my eyes and a feeling of well-being invades.
“Dylanie, please.” His voice comes from far away, soft and warm, like Jake’s would feel if …
“No! Ouch!” For the second time today, I smack my head on part of a window. “Who the hell are you and what do you want? God, you almost had me there.”
He chuckles. “Oh, I intend to.”
In a blink, he’s moved from the base of the gnarled tree to the stone patio beneath me. Despite the landscape lights, he looks solid, not like a spirit at all. No haze, no shapeless black shadow figure. Slowly, so slowly, he raises his head. My legs go weak, and I grip the railing for support. Below me is the hot dark-haired man I saw on the steps when I arrived.
“Dylanie, I ask you again. May I come in?”
My brain screams no, no, no!
“Yes.” It comes out like an exhale, one that’s been trapped inside the air-tight cage that is my pathetic life. It feels good to say yes to something unapproved and maybe even dangerous.
Another blink and he’s on the balcony with me. Shit. This close, it’s obvious he’s not much older than me, maybe a few years. He’s the most human, solid-looking spirit I’ve ever encountered—if that’s what he is.
“Go ahead,” he says, reading my mind.
“Touch me. You want to. Go ahead.” He reaches out his hand, palm up. I shrink back. This is crazy! It isn’t possible. I mean, Agnes and I communicated, but not like this. And she certainly never looked at me like that. The realization is a slap in the face.
I set my jaw. “You know what? I will. You don’t scare me.”
He laughs again. “It is not my intent to scare you. Quite the opposite.”
I take a deep breath and slip my hand into his. Instead of feeling cold and slithery, like a snake, it’s warm and dry. So real.
“Do you know why I have chosen you, Dylanie Reid?”
Whoa, wait a minute. “Chosen me?”
He tugs on my hand and pulls me in close. He whispers in my ear, though no warm breath tickles my skin. “Because you are brave. A fighter. I admire that in a woman, and I want you on my side. I have secrets to share with you, but I must know you are loyal to me. Can I trust you?”
My insides tighten. His intense gaze makes it hard to think, and on some level, I know this can’t be happening. But it is. “I don’t even know who you are.”
“Perhaps not, but I know who you are. The moment you looked into my eyes this morning, I learned your undisclosed desires and your greatest fears. I know you love your little sister and the way she looks up to you. You are more scared of life than you let on. You allow others to believe you have seen and done it all, when you are as innocent as the day you were born. You want to be loved, yet you are afraid to relinquish control.”
“What the f—”
He places a ghostly finger over my lips. “You want the same things everyone else does, but you refuse to admit it, even to yourself. I know all these things. I know you, and I want to help. All you have to do is let me.”
“Who is me? What’s your name?”
“Call me Jackson.”
“Look, Jackson, I don’t need help.” I take a step back but he holds tight.
“Ah, but you do. And so do I.”
“I knew there was a catch. Even dead people always want something from you.”
“That’s human nature, Dylanie, but I assure you, your reward will be much greater than my request.”
“In time, sweetheart. I’ll explain in time. But first, let me demonstrate what it is I can do for you.”
His all-too-real hands tip my head to the side and he leans in.
I have my first kiss.
With a ghost.
Dylanie, aka Dylan, is forced by her mother. Ashley is driven by the death she is unable to forget. Jake is tired of feeling all the pain around him. These three teens have powers none of them want. As if being a teenager is not painful enough, now they see, hear and feel things no one else can. All three meet during a filming of a TV show, which is meant to teach them how to handle their powers. Unfortunately, the ghosts from the past have a different agenda. The antebellum home has unfinished history to settle. The ghosts are determined the living will help the dead. Can Dylan, Ashley and Jake help the dead before their powers become more than they can deal with? Shrapnel is a story full of teen angst. The reader is able to experience youth again, but may find it is painful the first time around. Ms. Lawton writes a story that becomes a roller coaster ride headed off the tracks. The ghosts are more vivid than the living, and the character development brings them back to life. Take a trip back into the past, merge it with the present, and you have a superb story. I highly recommend giving Shrapnel a read.
This was a really fun, fast paced read for me in which I immediately became engrossed in the story from the very first page. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, but I especially enjoyed Dylanie the most. She was a Gothic teenager who was a medium and clairvoyant and all she wanted to do was understand her special gifts more so she could use them in her favor. I loved how she paired up with the other two teenagers, Ashley and Jake, and they all were taking part in the paranormal TV show, Paranormal Teen. They made a great team together because they all had different abilities they brought to the table. I loved how Dylanie had not only Jake interested in her, but also a Civil War ghost named Jackson. It was enjoyable turning the pages to see who was going to win Dylanie’s attention more. This is labeled a Young Adult, Paranormal story that will even have adults entertained while reading it. Great job, Ms. Lawton! Poor Dylanie is going through some crazy times in her life right now. If being sixteen isn’t hard enough on her, add to the mix that her dad moved out, her mother has a “girlfriend” and she has a few paranormal gifts that make her stand out from other teenagers. Top it all off with getting a spot on Paranormal Teen and you have a disaster of a situation happening. Does Dylanie learn anything while on the TV show? Does she come away knowing more about her special abilities and will she be able to use them to her advantage?
Stephanie Lawton is a writer to watch in the YA genre. Shrapnel kept me turning pages as quickly as I could!
Shrapnel is a dark, twisted ghost story with the richness of a Southern Gothic and a super seductive romance that leaves you dying for more.