January 23rd – 24th
This is the third book that I’ve read by Francesca Zappia, and to be honest, after this one I’m thinking that my love for her second book may have been an anomaly.
In theory, this book has everything that I like. Mystery, paranormal powers, ghosts, and a distinct lack of romance (though it did have an annoying amount of mentioning it). In reality, I felt that the book fell flat with many of these elements, and I’m wondering if that’s because of the age range it was written for, or due to the writing.
Mysteries are supposed to be creepy. They should make the hair on the back of your arms stand up, and leave you with a sense of unease. At best, I found the setting for Now Entering Addamsville a type of surface level horror setting that I was not a huge fan of.
The main plot is that Zora Novak has been framed for starting a fire and killing a man. Things only go worse for Zora from there, as she’s outcast and blamed for a series of crimes that she didn’t commit. Zora, who can see ghosts and is hunting a creature called a firestarter, has the whole town against her. She teams up with her cousin Artemis, and the two attempt to clear her name and stop the monster causing havoc in their spooky Indiana town.
The most interesting mystery in the book actually happened five years prior to the events we’re given, when Zora’s mother disappeared without a trace and left her car, and her firestarter hunting to Zora. Through the book, there is a constant reminder that Zora’s mom disappeared, and that Zora doesn’t believe her to be dead. Though some of the other character mysteries had satisfying endings, I felt that this one was left far too open for any satisfaction.
I did like the some of the characters, mainly Zora’s cousin Artemis, and a “good” firestarter named Bach who helps her along the way. I thought that their characters were more interesting, and less angry, than our main character. I think that I have a hard time with angry main characters in general though, so I don’t fault the book for that.
I also appreciated that at the end the book definitely didn’t shy away from gore, and Zora’s fear of fire was written very well. This, combined with the good pacing of the book is what kept it at a three for my rating.
I hope that if Zappia writes in this genre again, we get to see more of a creepy setting. This low rating hasn’t dissuaded me from reading her future books, because I know what her writing is like when she’s touching upon heavier subjects like the schizophrenia in Made You Up, or the anxiety and perfectionism she dictates so beautifully in Eliza and her Monsters. Whenever she announces a new book, I’ll still check it out.