Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book Review: BLISS

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lauren Myracle
Bliss spent her early childhood on a commune. But when her hippie parents head north to avoid being drafted to go to Vietnam, Bliss is left behind with the cold and aloof grandma she never knew. Bliss, who mainly slept in a tent, is now sleeping in a luxurious southern mansion. Now she will be attending the elite private school Crestview Academy. As if learning to navigate through the murky waters of affluent teen social politics wasn't enough, Bliss is hearing a strange voice in Hamilton Hall the oldest building in the school.
Much to Bliss's surprise she finds that likes the amenities of her grandmother's world. She likes her soft bed, her lavender soap, and even watching lots of television. Of course the biggest news story in the summer of 1969 is the brutal Manson murders in California. In fact everyone is talking about it as the school year begins at Crestview. Crestview has always been a bit of morbid place. In fact it has its own history of suicide, torture, and dark occult activities.
As Bliss begins the awkward process of making friends she continues to hear the creepy voice as it speaks to her of blood, revenge and ritual. She's also torn between her new social group (a crew of somewhat bland, yet totally socially acceptable girls) and the school misfit, who she believes to be a misunderstood Good Samaritan. Her regular friends are alarmed when Bliss aligns herself with Sandy, even though no one in the school can stand her. Even Bliss begins to doubt herself when Sandy becomes irrationally clingy, while exhibiting some very antisocial and even frightening behaviors.
Sandy introduces Bliss to an elderly lady named Agnes, who reveals part of Crestview's dark history to Bliss. The voice that Bliss has been hearing belongs to the ghost of Lilianna, a girl with dark powers, who commit suicide there many years before. Now more than ever Bliss knows that she has reason to fear the "blood voice" that speaks to her whenever she nears the oldest building in the school. The disembodied voice that terrorizes Bliss becomes increasingly insistent that Bliss must bring her "the key." It also tells her that she is going to be part of ritual ceremony that will help the Lilianna come back to life, while occupying the body of a vessel.
Now Bliss finds herself caught up in a horrifying supernatural situation from which there is no easy escape! The fast paced tension, mixed with dark, unique story telling make BLISS one of the most exciting pieces of YA horror that I've read in a very long time. The story is rich with humor and satisfying detail. The 1960's setting and the pervasive Manson motif adds to its flavor and originality. BLISS is seriously spine-chilling scary. I must say that some of the Pagan ritualistic detail is not for the weak of heart (or stomach.)
I think Lauren Myracle has raised the bar on YA horror with BLISS. I absolutely loved it, and think it will have wide appeal with the 14 and up crowd. Brava!

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