Lee Bice-Matheson’s debut novel (Wake Me Up Inside) starts out as a coming-of-age story, exploring the themes of transition and discovery as teenager Paige Maddison is uprooted from her urban life to live in her family’s ancestral home in rural Ontario, but before she leaves, she is already experiencing (prophetic?) visions of a little girl.

Paige quickly comes to love O’Brien Manor and helps to heal the rift between her mother and her estranged parents. Romance also blossoms in the form of hunky neighbour, Brad, and suddenly things aren’t looking so bad in the country. That is, until the ghosts of the past catch up with Paige and her family.

Lee Bice-Matheson slowly builds the tension with a cold spot here and a tap on the shoulder there, and as Paige’s dreams get stronger, she is getting weaker as the malevolent spirit feeds on the life energy of her and her grandfather. With Brad’s help, Paige has a mystery to solve and her grandfather’s medical condition gives the ticking clock necessary to ramp up the tension and make her investigation a race against time.

It’s a short novel and very easily read, and I’m sure its YA target audience will find much to identify with. I liked the Evanescence reference (where the book gets its title from), but the rest of the musical references went over my head. I’m only docking it a star because I believe there is more for teenage girls to empathize with here than a guy at the wrong end of his thirties. 4 stars out of 5.

This is the first book in a proposed trilogy. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Thank you Philip Henry. Producer of movies, writer of horror. I am in awe. 

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