Dark Storm by Sarah Singleton, published by Simon and Schuster on 29th March 2012
Ellie is staying with her maternal grandparents for the summer, while her recently bereaved dad takes off on holiday with his new girlfriend. Upset by his apparent callousness, missing her mother, and jealous for her dad's attention, she begins to spiral into depression. Her grandparents suggest she joins a local theatre group, to meet people her own age and get away from the dark thoughts that threaten to engulf her. But then she gets roped into a seance at the theatre, and is the only one who actually sees a real ghost. Now a spirit is contacting her from beyond the grave - and as the dead boy's story unfolds, Ellie finds herself falling in love with him. But if she solves his mystery and helps release his soul, will he be lost to her forever?
'Dark Storm' is a ghostly love story about a lonely teenage girl called Ellie who while visiting her grandparents for the summer discovers a secret from the past. She falls in love with a handsome vision who appears to her after she finds a theatre model in an old bookshop. The model connects her with Harry - a ghost from the past who she sets out to discover more about.
I initially found the story a little slow to start but as it progressed I was sucked into Ellie's quest to find out more about the mysterious Harry and who he really was. I actually really enjoyed reading about the historical research that she embarks upon and the way in which she gradually begins to connect all the dots together to find out the truth about him. It's like a puzzle which she has all the pieces for but it won't make sense until they're all put in the right place.
British author Sarah Singleton has an engaging writing style. Her characters are realistically and truthfully portrayed like typical teenagers and they're easy to empathise with. I liked Ellie, the central protagonist, in particular She feels displaced and alone after the death of her mother and resentful of her father's new girlfriend. She's drawn to Harry's presence and there's a definite connection between the two but I didn't necessarily feel the sense of love which develops. I far preferred the solid and dependable Alex, a local boy who Ellie becomes friends with and who's always there when she needs him.
There's also local girl Daisy who Ellie befriends when she joins the local theatre group. Daisy is quirky and cool and their personalities seem to compliment each other. While Ellie is often sad and confused, Daisy is a happy person to be around and she seems like a great friend to have.
I liked the symmetry which developed between Ellie's mother's romantic past and Ellie's present relationships. The second half of the book in which many of these secrets come to light was extremely good. Overally this was an enjoyable read and probably my favourite of Sarah Singleton's books so far.