In a Young Adult book market currently experiencing a glut of paranormal themed books “The Body Finder” is a breath of fresh air! Don’t misunderstand me – my reading material of choice is generally paranormal romance or urban fantasy – but too often I read books with different covers, different authors but the same old story tropes tirelessly trotted out. “The Body Finder” is different.
The book follows the story of Violet Ambrose who has the ability to sense the bodies of those, both human and animal, who have died unnatural deaths and the echoes these murders leave on the killer – whether the killer is a cat who has just eaten a mouse or a man who has just killed a teenage girl. And that’s where the story begins. Violet’s town is the hunting ground of a serial killer, the murders are getting closer and closer to home and the echoes of the murdered girls are calling to violet. I’ll stop there before I give away any spoilers.
This is the first novel written by Kimberly Derting and it’s a great beginning. Her writing style is engaging and her main character, Violet, is well developed and likable. Of course there’s teenage angst aplenty as Violet discovers, much to her chagrin that she has fallen in love with her best friend Jay. What is a girl to do? On top of that she’s also dealing with the killer stalking her town.
I loved the way in which Derting described Violet’s ability and the way in which a person’s echo was as unique as the person themselves. I also liked the fact that Violet wasn’t struggling alone with her ability but had a close and loving family –and boyfriend – that knew about her unique talent and were there to support her.
The book is written in third person and is told from the perspective of Violet. Interspersed with these chapters, however, is the voice of the killer and Derting does an outstanding job of detailing his genuinely disturbing thoughts and the way in which he views his victims. This added a genuinely tense element to the book.
However, while the book was a great read it wasn’t flawless. It took a while for the action to start and I must admit to getting a little impatient and was tempted to skip ahead – but I didn’t! There was also the developing relationship between Violet and Jay. While I loved how they were slowly discovering each other anew it did rather push the murder mystery to the side. Considering the nature of the crimes it didn’t sit well with me that such a powerfully written and horrifying crime should take a back seat to anything. The ending, while dramatic, was also rather contrived. Violet is, by this point in the novel, under police guard and her friend abandon her in a conveniently isolated part of the school? Seriously!
However, these minor moans aside this book was a great read. I’m just about to read the follow up: Desires of the Dead and am looking forward to seeing where Derting takes our heroine next.