Unrest by Michelle Harrison, published by Simon and Schuster on 26th April 2012
Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they’re terrifying.
Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again - and it wants Ophelia, too...
Creepy and atmospheric, 'Unrest' is a book which, like the main protagonist of the story, will keep you up all night wondering what could be out there in the shadows.
Having previously read and enjoyed Michelle Harrison's award-winning series The Thirteen Treasures, I was eager to try her first young-adult novel. While I'm not a big fan of ghost stories you've got to hand it to Harrison - she sure knows how to ratchet up the tension and make you believe in things that go bump in the night.
Full of suspense and intrigue, 'Unrest' is a real page-turner and if this is a subject matter that you normally enjoy then this is definitely the book for you. While I found some of the ghost stories told when the main character Elliott gets a job at Past Lives, a supposedly haunted museum, a bit long at times, they did serve to create a really spooky atmosphere for Elliott's own experiences.
I initially didn't warm to either Elliott or the mysterious Ophelia who he meets at Past Lives. They were interesting figures but there wasn't anything about them that I particularly liked. I did however think that Harrison did a good job of writing from a male perspective and as their friendship developed, I enjoyed seeing how they were mutually supportive and actually had quite a life-changing effect on each other.
The story itself was so clever, especially because elements of it were rooted in fact. Using the idea of sleep paralysis, with the dreamer waking during a dream but unable to move, thereby blending their dream with reality, meant that there was a good mix of truth and theory, causing the story to seem more believable.
'Unrest' was a chilling read full of twists and turns leading to a truly shocking chain of events and an explosive final few chapters which will literally blow your mind.