Kami Glass is in love with someone she's never met - a boy the rest of the world is convinced is imaginary. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she doesn't complain. She runs the school newspaper and keeps to herself for the most part - until disturbing events begin to happen. There has been screaming in the woods and the dark, abandoned manor on the hill overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. As Kami starts to investigate for the paper, she finds out that the town she has loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets- and a murderer- and the key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy who everyone thought was imaginary may be real...and he may be dangerous.
This book was a big surprise to me. I'd read a lot of good things about it online, and I'd been really keen on it until I saw that hideous UK cover (more on that later), so I kind of expected to hate it when I finally got around to reading it. I really, really liked it. There was a patch in the middle where I started to get bored, which I think is more down to the fact that I read that section while tired and grumpy than some issue with the actual book, but overall it was really good.
Kami is a great character. She's funny and bright and she knows how to take care of herself. Honestly, if I had to compare her to another character, I'd say she's a little bit like Buffy Summers, and that's a great compliment. The other characters are, for the most part, well-written and interesting too. I think Angela was definitely my favourite, and I quite liked Kami's parents as well, partly just because they were around. It was nice to see a character with living and only minorly dysfunctional adults. In fact, the only characters I was unimpressed by were the Lynburns, who seemed quite stereotypical to me. I can't say much more about that without giving away aspects of the plot, but they didn't seem particularly original to me.
There were a couple of little niggles for me, though, such as the fact that Sorry-in-the-Vale didn't strike me as being very authentically British. This is something that constantly irritates me about books set in the UK that aren't written by UK-based authors, and I found it noticeable here. Another little annoyance was the presence of a character - a throwaway character, but a character nonetheless - named Jocelyn Fairchild. Like Clary's mother in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The author who is quoted on the front of the book. And who is, or so I am led to believe by the internet, a good friend of Sarah Rees Brennan. That bugged me. I'm already deeply suspicious of cover quotes when I know the authors are friends, but reading that name in the book made me wonder if Cassandra Clare had actually read the book before writing a nice quote about it.
Now, the cover. That hideous, hideous cover. I've blogged about this specifically before, about how this UK edition is foul, particularly when you compare it to the very nice US one, but I got a nice surprise when I was reading the acknowledgments at the end of the book. "Thank you for my cover, the most beautiful cover in the world (sorry, all other covers, you tried, but it just wasn't enough)...Thank you to Beth White, artist extremely extraordinaire, for creating it: I love it more than I can say." Which is all very nice, except Beth White did not design to cover on the front of this book. Somebody called Nick Stearn did. There is a whole paragraph dedicated to the beautiful US cover, which amused me very much.