Clare Fern is used to stomaching the dubious looks of classmates and residents of her tourist town in Cape Cod. Labeled a freak by the bullies who have taunted her since childhood, Clare works hard to ignore the skeptical looks and taunts that come with being a known psychic. With just a touch, Clare can see other people’s secrets — including ones that end in murder.
When a teen girl is found dead in a nearby hotel, the residents of Eastport, Mass., are up in arms. Like the entire town, the Fern family thrives on tourism — and depends on wealthy visitors dropping dough to stay afloat in the off-season. But everyone’s fear of losing business is nothing compared to the sadness and terror of having a murder committed in their tiny town . . . and who killed Victoria, an out-of-towner?
The situation moves from serious to grave as Clare’s brother, Perry, becomes implicated in Victoria’s death, and Clare is called in by a new detective and his handsome son to assist with the case. Still scorned but now necessary to the investigation, Clare agrees to help find the killer . . . but this case is anything but predictable.
Kim Harrington’s Clarity, a new young adult novel with a paranormal twist, kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. I loved that, in contrast to so many weak-willed, boring heroines, Clare was a fiery teen unwilling to let anyone boss her around. Her psychic abilities — and everyone’s knowledge of them — made her strong, and it was her love for family that kept her grounded.
Perry, Clare’s older brother, is a pretty unlikeable dude. More interested in hooking up with tourists because there’s “no commitment” than working on anything resembling self-improvement, Perry flirts with beautiful girls as a way of coping with his psychic gift: he sees dead people. But it’s hard to hate the guy, especially because he’s so devoted to his little sister. Their bond was the strongest part of the novel — the things they would do for one another; the lengths they would go to protect each other. That resonated with me.
Though the book occasionally borders on Too Many Characters-itis territory, Harrington successfully introduced scads of people and actually made me care about them. We have Detective Toscano, a New York transplant who arrives in Eastport just before the murder. Gabriel Toscano is the detective’s son — a brooding loner who takes a shine to Clare despite his immediate skepticism of her “abilities.” Throw in Justin, Clare’s ex-boyfriend, and we have ourselves a good ol’ fashioned love triangle, friends, and I totally bought it. Furthermore, I had no idea which guy I was rooting for — they both seemed lovable in their own ways, even if Justin was once a dirtbag.
Nothing in Clarity came easy. A murder mystery at its core, Harrington threw enough plot twists in to keep me guessing until the very end. Every easy answer was eventually turned on its head, and I never saw the ending coming. But, more than anything, it was all somehow believable. I liked the Fern family and never doubted their pure intentions to help others . . . even if they used their skills to turn a profit. I mean, they’ve got to eat, right? Starla, Clare and Perry’s mother, is a single mom trying to help and protect her children. Can’t fault her there.
Fans of young adult fiction with a paranormal bent will find plenty to devour in Clarity, a novel outside my usual genre but with a haunting cover. I read it quickly and am eagerly anticipating the sequel, which is due out next year.
Just a word of caution: the story incorporates plenty of sex and violence, though not in a graphic way. Definitely mature themes better suited to older teens and adults. Steer clear for anyone younger than 14, as Harrington suggests on her website.
4 out of 5!