Book review: ‘Clarity’ by Kim Harrington

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!

ISBN: 0545230500 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review

Giveaway: ‘Clarity’ by Kim Harrington

What’s the first thing you notice about Kim Harrington’s novel Clarity?

If you’re me, it’s that bokeh. Little circles of light — so interesting, so delicate . . . I love it. And that cover.

And what I’m here to offer today — after a busy, busy weekend — are two copies of Harrington’s debut young adult novel!

What’s it about?

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother, who has supernatural gifts of his own, becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

I’m halfway through this one now and really enjoying it. Different and imaginative, it’s not a genre I’d usually consider . . . but as I said, I’m powerless against the pull of bokeh. It’s very suspenseful and well-drawn, and I can honestly say that — at page 165 — I have no idea where this is going . . . or how the mysteries will be solved.

Clarity’s publisher has kindly offered two copies of the book for two winners in the U.S. To enter, please fill out this form between March 7 and 12 p.m. (noon) EST on March 11. Winners will be randomly selected by yours truly and notified by email that they’ve won. Comments on this post are welcome but will not count as entries.

Still curious? Check out the book’s trailer on YouTube or Harrington’s website, with links to her blog and Twitter. You can also add Clarity to your Goodreads wishlist.

EDIT on March 11: Congrats to Melissa Vasquez and lisa, our randomly-chosen winners! Ladies, I’ve emailed you both for your mailing addresses. Thanks all for entering!