Haunted by Joy Preble
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: February 1st, 2011
Series: Dreaming Anastasia, #2
Age Level: 14+
Source: For review from publisher.
Synopsis via Goodreads
Anne is trying her best to live a normal life, but she's still got some power sparking inside her. She's hearing and seeing things that she tries her best to ignore-like being haunted by a Russian sea nymph that claims the princess Anastasia is still alive.
That's when Ethan Kozninsky-he of the stunning blue eyes, thick brown hair, and former immortal status-returns. Anne soon realizes that everything she's been trying to forget might be impossible to bury.
Here is what I love about Joy Preble's books: Not only do each of them thoroughly entertain me, but I also always learn something new about Russian folklore. I find it a very valuable quality in a book when you can come away from it with another wrinkle in your brain.
Reading Haunted was like getting to know the characters all over again, considering the long lapse in time between my reading this and Dreaming Anastasia. Anne is a strong, independent heroine with attitude. After all the craziness she'd been through, it was easy to see why she wanted to ignore the fact that her powers were stronger than ever and try to be normal. But when destiny calls, Anne knows she doesn't have much say in the matter and reluctantly realizes that she hasn't much choice but to forget being normal. I found her to be very likable as well as relatable, making her easy to connect with. Then we have Ethan, who's mature, handsome, and supportive though, like Anne, part of me was a bit ticked at him, in the beginning, for staying away so long when he knew something was wrong. The romance between the two of them is very realistically paced, taking it's time. They know they're attracted to each other but they aren't jumping each other and saying 'love' when what they are experiencing is 'lust' like some 'couples' I've happened across. Tess is Anne's loyal, protective, and spitfire best friend and let me tell you, that girl is a riot. She isn't very trusting of Ethan and I could understand why she'd feel that way and was kind of glad that she did. It showed how much she cared about Anne. Then we have Ben, the poor old sap who has no idea what he's gotten himself into. I could see why Anne started going out with him after Ethan left. He's pretty sweet and he's also very normal. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him when Ethan came back but there were some times when he annoyed me. The rusalka was a very intriguing, mysterious character and I loved getting to know her story. Baba Yaga, Anne's mom, and Mrs. Benson round off this great cast of characters.
I've always held an interest in the history, culture, and age old tales of various countries. Preble's stories nurture and encourage my growing appetite for more with each book. In Haunted, not only do we get more of Baba Yaga, but we are also introduced to rusalkas, Russian mermaids whom were once human girls/women who died young and tragically near a body of water. There are many variations on mermaids but this legend was completely new and darkly mesmerizing to me. Weave in the magic and mystery elements and Preble's got me turning the pages, excited to see what happens next. The identity of the rusalka wasn't totally unexpected but it was a great twist and I can honestly say that while I knew she had to have some kind of connection to Anne, I wasn't completely sure what that was. Having been well over a year since I'd read Dreaming Anastasia, I had forgotten quite a few plot details but Haunted did a pretty decent job reminding me of most the details.
Preble has a luminous, captivating writing style that often verges on poetic. I thought this was particularly expressed in the chapters from Baba Yaga's point of view, a perspective I found so compelling and unique. Though totally different, Ethan and Anne's perspectives were also very well done and, like before, I thought getting to read both of their sides was beneficial to the story. The only problem was that on occasion the writing seemed a bit repetitive, but this was a very minor issue for me.
Haunted ended very appropriately with questions not only being answered but with a few being introduced as well, letting me know that there is more to come. I still feel like I have a lot to learn about the ways of Baba Yaga and Anne's involvement in them; I look forward to more being revealed in the next book.
Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted are refreshing and imaginative in a way that so many paranormal books aren't these days. The incorporation of the Russian folklore really gives these stories something special to make them standout among all the vampires, fallen angels, etc. Seriously, these books have a lot going for them and if you haven't given them a try yet, I definitely suggest that you do. I'm anxious to see what lovely stories Preble creates next.
2nd in Series: B+
Amazon / B&N / Kindle / Nook / Book Depository
Amazon / B&N / Kindle / Nook / Book Depository