Strange Unearthly Things

Viking. Aug. 2023. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593116081.
Gr 9 Up–Creagh’s latest paranormal romance novel is loosely based on the beloved classic Jane Eyre. Orphan and psychic artist Jane Reye, 18, finds herself alone and directionless in life when she ages out of the all-girls’ school she’s called home for the last few years. With the death of her best friend still haunting her, Jane takes a mysterious job studying a Gothic English manor, Fairfax Hall, plagued by the paranormal. There, she begins to fall for the secretive yet alluring owner, Elias Thornfield—a boy her age but seemingly from another era. Together with a ragtag group of teen psychics, they must unravel the secrets and mysteries of Fairfax Hall to save Elias’s soul. Readers, especially devotees of the original classic, will likely be disappointed by everything except the stunning Gothic location of the novel. The cast of characters (all of whom are cued white) are surprisingly flat and stereotypical without much, if any, backstory. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, feel forced. The romance between Jane and Elias falls victim to the insta-love trope, which some will love and others loathe. Major plot points build well, but for all the build-up, so much of the plot fizzles out. Creagh does have a beautiful writing style and creates alluring descriptions. Dialogue between characters is witty but walks a fine line between relevant Gen-Z slang and being cringey, bringing the longevity of this title into question.
VERDICT More of a reimagining than retelling, this falls tragically flat. Purchase only for collections where Creagh’s other titles are well loved.

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