Review: ‘Between’ by Dora Hilburn

Between by Dora HilburnBetween is a ghost story. And a love story. And the story of a couple of solitary beings, unwilling or unable to change who they are or become more than they are – until they meet.

Anna Riggs is the daughter of Walter, an academic who is more interested in digging up past lives than connecting with his daughter. It’s just the two of them now. They are comfortable with each other, yet distant. He does his thing, and she does hers. It’s a silence that works for them. Anna has always been mature and solitary, and she easily overtook the household duties when her mother died.

As the only remaining heir, Anna is bequeathed a house in Apalachicola, Florida by her great uncle. She and her father decide to move to the small town for a few months in order to make repairs and updates to the old Victorian-era home. The plan is to sell it and use the proceeds to pay for college. No one has lived there for quite a while, and the last updates were made at least fifty years prior. Apparently the last people to inhabit the house had left in quite a hurry, leaving their furniture and a study full of books. Something lived there along with them, something that made noises and moved things and left pockets of cold air. Something that did not want to share its space with them.

At the hardware store, Anna meets Eric, movie-star handsome and two years older. He’s going to be an architecture major, so when he hears that Anna and Walter are working on Fenway House, he invites himself over to help out. He is obviously interested in Anna as well as the architecture. He and his twin sister, Gabby, become sort-of friends with Anna, though Anna isn’t used to attention and never has had many close friends.

Since the first time exploring the house, Anna felt like she was being watched. The freezing air, the book that falls from the shelves in the study, the movement she sees out of the corner of her eye…she knows that it’s her mind playing tricks on her. She’s heard the ghost stories told about the house, and until she actually hears a voice speak to her, that’s all they were: stories. Then she begins having vivid dreams about Wyatt, a nineteen-year-old boy who supposedly haunts Fenway House. It’s his family’s home, and he died almost 100 years before in France during World War I. He returned along with his body and has remained ever since, waiting…but for what, he never knew. Until now.

A good ghost story raises the gooseflesh, gets the heart racing and keeps you from dangling your leg over the side of the bed at night. But even when a more sinister element is introduced here, it still remains a love story at heart. You know that Anna is going to be the one who gets the ghost to reveal itself; you also know that they will fall in love. But what kind of future is there for a spirit and a flesh-and-blood girl? The answer, of course, is none. But good sense aside, solid Anna, good ol’ solitary, mature Anna, gets overly-attached. I can imagine that it would be very painful for two people to meet each other and fall in love under strange circumstances. Examples of other books that have covered this territory include Twilight (an obvious choice), along with the Tamara Ireland Stone time-travel romance Time Between Us. The only way Anna and Wyatt can be shipped is if he returns to the flesh…or the not-so-pleasant second choice.

The story goes on, sweet with their meetings, his explanations of what he can do and can’t do, their getting to know each other. You know, like normal couples. Wyatt might even call it “courting.” But the “can’t” specter looms large, no matter how many days they spend together. It’s obvious that the author loves these characters and has thought about them and their relationship a lot. That laser focus is also what ultimately makes the addition of an evil spirit to feel tacked on. It could really have been a frightening part of the story had it been developed more fully.

There are definitely typical YA motifs here, from the absentee parents, to the awkward, solitary girl (yet mature and trustworthy) who doesn’t think she’s interesting, to the gorgeous guy who sees through her unease and pursues her (he’s the Adonis; she’s a mess). And Anna’s hysterical reaction to the very real possibility of her not being able to choose Wyatt was a little surprising.

Wyatt, who was born in 1896, must have picked up some of the lingo during recent years. He does get out among the people, but it would have seemed more realistic of him to use language that was more suited to his time period. He doesn’t seem the least bit old-fashioned or shocked by Anna. Also, and I know this is stupid to say, but the lack of dust and dirt in that house, the use of fifty-year-old sheets on the bed, and the relatively good shape that the furniture was in was unbelievable. And, speaking as a former remodeler, Anna and Walter sure sailed through all of their projects quickly. That’s a trite something to say, I realize, but the background needs to be just as convincing as the story line.

Those things aside, it is an engaging story by an author with a winning writing style and palpable love for the both the area and her characters.

Between by Dora Hilburn was published March 19, 2015 by Rainbow Books. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the Publisher, the Author and NetGalley.

Rating: 3

Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Romance
Ages: 13 and up

One thought on “Review: ‘Between’ by Dora Hilburn”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *