Thursday, January 19, 2017

A young adult ghost story


By Teri Polen

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Pub. Date: December 1, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


 In Teri Polen's Young Adult horror novel Sarah we have the type of horror that is steeped in the emotions of teens yet interestingly stretches into adult horror often. Sarah is a ghost story and of course ghost stories are popular with all ages. Yet this one deftly merges mature topics with a tight horror tale and more than a taste of violence.

Cain is what most would consider a good guy . He is the captain of the soccer team and his head is on fairly straight, partially thanks to his BFF Finn who has no problem telling him when he is screwing up. The latest problem is with Cain's girl friend who is clearly using him and Finn doesn't waste words in telling Cain that. That may be why Cain doesn't pay much attention to strange things like cold breezes and creaking doors in his family's new house. At least not at first. He discovers a girl named Sarah was killed in the house while it was being built. Sarah is angry over her death and Cain wants to help her resolve it and move on. But when that help include taking possession of his body and planning gruesome deaths of her killers , Cain tries to stop it which only puts his friends and family at risk too.

From there on, it gets pretty scary. I would think this book might be too intense for younger children. 12 and up would be OK...I think. But regardless of the quibbling on the age level, Teri Polen has written one of the better YA horror novels in the past few years. Cain is totally likeable and believable. His hesitation on the number of things feels quite right as does his friend Finn who is the best advice giver even if he doesn't take it that well himself. There is a new girl friend and a cute little sister that add more dimension to the story. Cain's mother seems a bit thin. She is just there because he needs a mother. But the main characters are perfect for tangling with the spirit of Sarah as her true intentions starts to show.

Actually, Sarah is the real highlight of the story. we feels for her because of the circumstances of her death,. Yet the author reveal her growing evilness so nicely that she truly become a figure of horror. As her powers grow, so does the terror. This is one book to keep the lights on while reading, especially if you are a teen.

Sarah is well worth reading for both teens and adults. In a way it is a fairly common ghost story with possession throw in. Yet the combination of teen issues with the constant twists and turns raises it above the usual. This is a good book for your teen who think Goosebumps is old-fashioned. And if you really want to have fun wait until night when he or she is about two-thirds done than flip the main power switch off. Mean maybe but ...


  1. Marvin, thanks so much for your wonderful review and for taking the time to read Sarah - glad you enjoyed it!

  2. You're welcome. I look forward to whatever else you write in the future.