The Light by D. J. MacHale

four dragons
four dragons

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My husband read The Light before me which doesn’t happen all that often (except for childhood books) and even more rare it passed his inspection and he recommended it to me.

There were some really great scares written in that had me avoiding it when I was alone in the house. The final scene is spectacularly haunting and intense.

I can’t say that this is the best YA horror novel I’ve ever read (I’ve read Zafon’s Marina after all) but it’s definitely not the worst I’ve ever read (I’ve read Goosebumps lol).

If I were to grade it based on beginning, middle, and end I would say 4.5 for the beginning and the end with a 3.5 for the middle. It only lost points during the middle because it shifted how the scares were performed. For example, early on the terror was entirely through the specter, this Morpheus, whereas in the middle it is still the specter but he uses humans much more. So depending on the reader’s specific fears the middle may be scarier or less so. Because I signed up for a demon or spirit horror novel the human side of things didn’t scare me in the same way.

But boy did that ending make up for any of the slower points. All I can say is the cemetery scene was horrifying and gripping. I couldn’t put my book down during that scene and it sealed the deal on my reading the next book.

Don’t get me wrong the writing isn’t flawless but it also isn’t an untested author (you may have heard of his Pendragon series). Some sections were a bit wordy when showing something that is meant to be nearly instantaneous, but overall the writing drew me into the fear rather than away from it. Some of the most important things I look for in a horror novel (just like a movie) is really exquisite writing and uniqueness. Have you seen this scare done a hundred times, was it better in most of those renditions? Or is this a completely new scare, is it drawn out just the right amount or over too quickly. The scene in which Marshall is listening to music is perfectly timed and shudderingly creepy.

I started out hating Sydney. She’s a witch. No not the cool kind, the annoying “I’m better than you” kind. As the story progresses we get to learn more about her and why she acts the way she does but it’s only through some seriously good acts that she gets any slack from me (she was awful). Honestly, Marshall’s attraction to Sydney is what led me to dislike some of the earlier chapters. I can’t stand when authors act like teenagers are always okay with being stepped on just because the person who is doing it is attractive. I think it sets a terrible precedent. There were plenty of hot guys and girls at my school but the second I saw them act like jerks for no reason other than popularity they immediately lost attractiveness. I can’t be the only high schooler that has felt that way. Give your characters some more credit. However, like I said she gets better, and their relationship progresses enough that I didn’t feel the need to throw the book.

Also, I wanted some more Cooper. He obviously has issues, but as Marshall’s best friend it would have been nice to read about them spending time together rather than only having glimpses of their childhood together. All I have is Marshall saying they have been friends for years but little of how they’ve spent their time in the last year or so. But that’s just a personal wish.

I would recommend this for readers interested in YA horror novels who want a unique twist in their specters.

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