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We had spent the summer in Charleston, South Carolina. My parents were producing another one of their documentaries, this one called Haunted Hospitality. They spent their days researching old hotels and restaurants that claimed to have ghosts, while I relaxed at the beach and took walking tours of the city with my sister Annalise, who was a sophomore at the College of Charleston. She worked part-time at one of the supposedly haunted local restaurants during her summer break.
"The only spooky thing about the place is my boss," she told me as we spread towels out on the sand. "He can get a little handsy, if you know what I mean."
I didn't, but I could guess. Annalise was strikingly beautiful with large hazel eyes and glossy black hair, just like our mom. Growing up, everyone talked about how she would become a model, but she was just over five feet tall, which is definitely a drawback in the modeling industry. Still, my parents had used her a few times for reenactments in their documentaries. Annalise would pull her hair into a bun, slip on a white Victorian dress and walk slowly in front of a green screen. When special effects were added later, she would appear as a transparent figure f loating above the f loor. She made a great ghost, which was ironic because in real life she was the one everyone seemed to notice while I was the one who slipped by, barely detected.
While Annalise resembled Mom, I took after Dad—tall and wiry, with dark hair that hung so straight it was infuriating. There wasn't even the hint of a curl. I kept it just long enough to tuck behind my ears and secretly resented it when Annalise complained that her glossy locks were simply "too bouncy."
During our third week in Charleston we decided to spend the morning at Waterfront Park. It was a warm Friday in June, the breezy air tinged with the sharp scent of seawater and the shrieks of gliding gulls. We walked along the pier searching for a place to sit and watch the boats. Tourists occupied all of the wide wooden bench swings that lined the dock, so we waited until a couple laden with cameras lumbered to their feet, then claimed the swing as our own. We sat back and rocked slowly, enjoying a clear view of the docked cruise ships and darting birds.
"This is nice," I said, pushing down on my feet to sway the swing.
"Summers are the best," Annalise murmured. She sounded drowsy. I felt tired, too, and worried that we might both fall asleep on the swing and wake up hours later, our arms bubbling red with sunburn.
"Maybe we should walk down to the beach."
"Can't. We have to meet Mom and Dad in less than an hour, and it'll take that long to walk to the beach and back."
I stopped swinging. "They didn't say anything to me about filming a scene today."
Annalise smiled. "They called me this morning. They need more chum."
"Chum" was what we called anyone who was brought in specifically to draw out paranormal energy. Some people claimed that a ghost would appear only if a certain kind of person was present, such as a curious child or a pretty girl. I didn't have to guess what kind of person my parents needed, and I felt a familiar twinge of jealousy. I was never asked to serve as ghost bait. Maybe I should have been grateful, but part of me wondered if it was because our parents didn't think I was good-looking enough to attract the interest of some dead, disembodied guy. It was insulting, really. Of course, no one in my family truly believed in ghosts, but still. Before I could get myself too wound up, Annalise spoke.
"They said they needed you, too."
"Really?" Maybe I had been wrong. Maybe my parents did see me as chum.
"Mom said the sound guy is sick. She needs your help."
Of course. Need a beautiful girl to lure reluctant spirits from hiding? Call Annalise. Need a plain and reliable worker to pick up the slack? Call Charlotte. Or don't even call—just tell Annalise to drag her along. After all, I couldn't possibly have anything else to do on a summer afternoon. I shook my head.
"I've got to stop thinking like that," I muttered.
I sighed and rocked the swing harder. "Nothing."
We sat a little while longer before strolling through the old section of town, our flip-flops slapping against the sidewalks. The air smelled like jasmine and felt cooler than it had been at the pier. Guys stopped to gawk at Annalise while I pretended not to notice. It was actually easy because there was so much to look at: the historic mansions, the moss-draped trees, the horse-drawn carriages pulling noisy tourists through the streets. I looked for black bolts on the outside of houses, the telltale sign that the structure had been damaged in the earthquake of 1886 but had survived. There was something amazing about those homes, I thought, that they had been strong enough to survive devastation and were still standing today. "It's so beautiful here," I sighed.
Annalise adjusted her bikini top. "Yeah? I forget. I guess I'm used to it, though."
I didn't think I would ever get used to living in a town like this, and I'd lived in a lot of places. Any time my parents received funding for one of their documentaries we picked up and moved, sometimes for just a few weeks. The place we had lived the longest was England, when I was four and Annalise was eight. Our parents spent a year researching ancient castles. I don't remember much about the trip, but my parents liked to tell stories about how Annalise and I climbed up dark towers and napped in basement torture chambers. Not exactly a typical childhood. Of course, we didn't have typical parents.
Mom and Dad met just after college. They'd both studied psychology at Ivy League schools and were attending a national conference when they bumped into each other— literally, Mom claims—outside a lecture about parapsychology. Neither one believed in ghosts or hauntings or telepathy or anything else about the field, but they were interested in one aspect: disproving it. Within a year, they'd married and had set about debunking some of the world's most famous ghost stories, from wailing women in hotel hallways to confused Civil War soldiers roaming empty fields. They cowrote a book, Ghost of a Chance, explaining the scientific causes of most "hauntings." Their careers took off, and soon they were being recognized as the world's foremost ghost debunkers. Then, when my mother was three months pregnant with me, something happened.
They were filming one of their documentaries inside an abandoned insane asylum. Dad was repositioning a camera when he felt something brush past his leg. When he looked down, he didn't see anything, but later, when he checked the tape on his thermal camera, it showed a small figure, about three feet tall, sliding past him. When Dad checked the sound readings and matched them to the exact time he felt something against his leg, a clear voice could be heard saying, "Pardon me."
I guess everything changed after that. It was the one thing my parents couldn't explain. Dad became obsessed with EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. They're sounds that are too low for a person to hear but can be picked up by recording devices. He found natural causes for some of them, like local radio interference, and proved many to be hoaxes, but he could never fully explain what had happened to him at the asylum that day.
Dad once told me that the trick is not to prove something is real, but to prove that it is not real. My parents spent their lives trying to prove things were not real, and for the most part, they were successful. Very successful, judging by their book sales and TV deals. But I wondered sometimes if what they really wanted was to believe beyond a doubt, to have a clear and absolute answer to the question of what happens after a person dies. Personally, I didn't think I wanted to know because there was nothing you could do to change it, but I could understand how the question consumed people.
By the time Annalise and I found the restaurant our parents were investigating, I was starving and my forehead felt slick with sweat. All I wanted was some lunch and a blast of air-conditioning. When I opened the door to the Courtyard Café, I instantly knew I'd get neither.
Inside the restaurant it was dark and stuffy. A few ceiling fans churned the thick air slowly, creating only a hot breeze. All the tables had been pushed against one wall, with the chairs stacked at the other end. I knew most of the crew and guessed the rest of the crowd consisted of employees waiting for something to happen.
"Girls! Thank goodness you're here." Mom rushed toward us. She was wearing her work clothes: a pair of khaki pants and a black T-shirt. "We're way behind schedule," Mom said to Annalise. "The owner is getting frustrated and we've had absolutely no readings today." Mom lowered her voice and nodded in the direction of a dark-haired woman standing in the corner. She was wearing a long apron with "Mrs. Paul" stitched across the front. "She claims this place has a green lady." Mom smirked. "Right."
Mom didn't believe in apparitions of any kind. She said people thought they saw something, and their brains tried to connect it to the familiar, and that in twenty years of research she'd never once confirmed an actual, stereotypical ghost.
Annalise smiled. "I'm here for whatever you need."
"Me, too," I chimed in. "Could I just grab some lunch first?"
Mom glanced at me. "No time. We'll go out to dinner later, though, okay? Great. You know where the sound equipment is, hon."
I trudged away to locate the boom mic while Annalise pulled a black T-shirt over her bikini top and got ready to serve as the day's chum. Everyone on the team wore a black shirt because it made it easier for the cameras to pick up light around a person. I was wearing a white cover-up over my bathing suit, but it didn't matter too much—the sound person always stood behind everyone else.
Dad came into the room and clapped his hands together. "Attention, please!" he said. "We're going to be moving into the next room. We'll set up and start rolling."
He saw me across the room and waved. I tried to wave back, but I was holding the boom mic and accidentally knocked Shane, our main camera guy, on the head.
"Watch it," he snapped, but when he saw it was me, he smiled. "Oh, hey, kid. Filling in?"
"Unfortunately." I sighed.
Shane had been with us for so long we considered him to be family. He was thirty, stocky and a devoted fan of low-budget horror movies. He was trying to film his own slasher flick when he met my parents, who promised him a steady paycheck and strange adventures, so he stayed with us instead of running off to Hollywood. Shane was the only crew member who had been with us since the beginning. Most people stayed with us for a project or two, then settled down somewhere like normal people. Shane was like us—definitely not normal.
We all moved as one slow, sweaty herd into the adjoining room. As in the front room, all the tables and chairs had been stacked against the walls and the drapes had been pulled shut to make it darker. It took a second for me to register, but the room was much cooler than the first one. In fact, it was downright cold. Within minutes I had goosebumps.
"Do you have a sweatshirt I could borrow?" I whispered to Annalise.
She gave me a funny look. "There's one in my beach bag." She went to the corner of the room and came back holding a pink sweater. "Try this. It's long on me, so it just might fit you."
I carefully set the heavy equipment down and pulled on the sweater. It was a little short but it fit, and I began to feel slightly warmer.
Dad asked everyone to quiet down and get ready. Then he had Annalise stand in the middle of the room. After checking all the cameras twice, he gave her the signal to start talking.
"Hello," she said. Her voice was confident and friendly, as if she was simply introducing herself at a crowded party. "My name is Annalise and I'm wondering if anyone is here with us today."
One camera focused on Annalise while one stayed on my parents and the rest of the team. They held up their heat-sensing monitors and EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) readers while I positioned the microphone above their heads.
"Okay, we're getting something," Mom said. "It's faint, but it definitely wasn't here last night."
I felt my nose begin to tickle and knew a sneeze was coming on. I tried to hold my breath.
"Keep talking," Dad instructed. "I think it's working."
Annalise kept up her conversational tone, asking simple questions and then waiting a moment as if she expected an answer. My sneeze was building, I could feel it. I tried not to, but just as Annalise asked again if anyone was present, it happened. I sneezed so loudly that half the team jumped, startled, and the sound echoed off the walls. Dad shot me a disapproving look while a few people tried not to giggle.
"Sorry," I said, loud enough for the entire room to hear. "My bad."
"Charlotte, please, if you could just—" Mom was cut off by sudden activity on all the readers. "Wait a minute. We're getting something."
I could see the lights of the equipment dancing wildly. It was rare to get so much activity so quickly. My parents were smiling and everyone seemed excited.
Everyone but Annalise.
"Um, guys? Something feels weird." She looked around the room and grimaced.
"What's wrong, sweetie?" Mom asked.
"I don't know, but something's not right."
Posted January 20, 2011
Ghosts. I love ghost stories and anything paranormal. But this book, not only held me at every page, but captured my every being. Charlotte is the Princess of Paranormal. Her parents are famous for the ghost documentaries. After moving to a new town, she meets a new friend with a big secret. After being there for a while, she begins to investigate and learned what really happen that night. She also learns that she is being haunted by ghosts who want her to find there long lost daughter.
Sometimes when I read a book I don't like the fact that there are two story lines going on. Sometimes it fits well with the plot and other times no. Ms. Purnhagen did a wonderful job writing both story lines. Not only did they fit well with each other, but they also had great endings. Both lines were closed with all questions answered. You weren't left hanging and confused.
I loved Charlotte. She was fearless and strong when it came to ghost. One thing that did get me was she was quick to judge. Whatever her friends told her she believe, yet she doubted in her mind. I was glad to see that she gave him a chance to explain and set things right. There are always two sides to a story. I am happy that both were heard. The ghost part I loved. All the researching and finding out clues is one adventure I liked being on. Charlotte willingness to help I adored. She wanted to help everyone. She was selfless when it came to setting things straight. She put herself on the line no matter what.
If you are looking for a great ghost story, with researching, creepy raise the hair on your arm moment but also great life drama read this book. It will not only make you look over your shoulder but it will entice you till the very end.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2012
I stumbled onto this lil gem by accident. I had won an autographed copy of the third book in the series and had to read the first two. I am so glad I did. It is kinda Ghost Hunters (the tv show) taking their work home with them. Well written and interesting content. I have also read the two novella that were free at one point on the nook. Honestly they can be stand alone reads if you do not want to read the series. I actually read 1.5 first.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2011
Posted August 20, 2011
This was a very quick and fun read. Charlotte's character is very likable - she is a young girl just trying to fit in. Because she has been a little ostracized all her life, she is very accepting of other people.
Her older sister Annalise has roped her parents into settling down for Charlotte's senior year of high school. This is both good and bad for Charlotte. It is good because she is finally able to live in a "new" house and not a gothic or victorian haunted house. She is also able to start to fit in and make friends at school. However, when her parents appear on the cover of the local tv schedule publication, she will have to face what she feels is their "weird" celebrity status.
Charlotte has some good friends in Avery - her next door neighbor and Noah, a boy from her AV class. I liked the way that secrets were revealed throughout the book among them.
You also get to learn about how paranormal activity is recorded with heat sensing monitors and EMF (electro magnetic field) readers and microphones to catch electronic voice phenomena or EVP's.
I have already read the next book - or novella in the series - Raising the Dead.
Posted August 5, 2011
Posted July 14, 2011
This was actually a book that was given to me by the publisher to review on their site, but I thought I would review it here as well for you all.
I have to say, this book caught my attention from the very beginning and I kept wanting to read more and more. The character of Charlotte Silver was a great character, and full of good qualities. She always felt pushed to the side when it came to her parents work in paranormal studies, but thru a chance encounter, she is finally the girl out front. I love how the author uses a good mix of technology(think Ghostbusters but not as campy) and believable dialog to keep you wanting more. But the other characters are great as well, and Charlotte's new surprising BFF Avery is great as both supporting, and smooth talking queen bee of the high school they go to.
All said and done, this is a great first novel in the series and it really gives a good foundation on the main characters so the following novels can just focus on the plot rather than character development. I can not wait to get my hands on the second book in the series now.
Posted June 30, 2011
I've had this book on my Nook for awhile but just didn't get around to reading it. I'm so very glad that I finally did. The story line keeps you sitting at the edge of your chair. The writing is very descriptive and informative. I felt like I was really there experiencing it all with the characters. I even cried at the end and for me, because I read so very much, that is not common. If you're looking for something to keep you occupied, this story will definitely do it. I can hardly wait to see what the author comes up with next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2011
This was a fast and fun read. Charlotte's parents are in the ghost-hunting business, but they aren't trying to prove ghosts are real, they're trying to prove that they're not. They believe that a person can imprint their energy on a place and that all sightings can be explained away by either a human glitch, or energy. When strange things start happening to Charlotte, things that can't be explained away, her parents have to come up with all new explanations.
I really enjoyed this book. It didn't revolve completely around the paranormal element. It was just as much about Charlotte, and her normal teenage life. She is tired of being dragged around from place to place, never getting to really make friends. Her struggle as she starts a new school, makes a new friend, and tries to understand what is going on at this school. There's obviously a secret that everyone else knows, but no one will talk about, and it's affecting her friend Avery. It was great to see her struggle with the same thing a lot of teens deal with when starting new schools and trying to fit in.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Charlotte was smart and fun, but also afraid to be who she really is. Avery, Charlotte's new best friend, is strong and loyal and the type of friend we all need. I loved Charlotte's parents, they were both unusual (obviously considering their profession) but they were also loving and caring parents who really wanted to do what they could to help their daughters.
Overall, I liked this book, but didn't love it. There were times when it was a little slow for me. The paranormal element wasn't really anything original. I have hopes that the next book will be better, and I enjoyed this one enough that I will be picking up the next one for sure.
Posted January 9, 2011
Posted November 14, 2010
Charlotte Silver has grown up in a family that isn't your everyday family next door. Her parents are famous paranormal investigators and the entire family travels around the world, debunking reports of ghostly hauntings. Charlotte has always been in the background of their investigations, her sister Annalise being the sister considered to be more "sensitive". Most of the time, Charlotte is okay with that, just wanting to be a normal high school girl. But after a research trip to Charleston, everything changes for Charlotte. No longer is she in the background, and that threatens the semblance of normalcy she has finally found.
Past Midnight is a modern day ghost story with all the chills and thrills you would want. Sometimes, with a ghost story, it can become overdone, overpowering the other elements that make for a good story. This was definately not the case with this novel. It was a perfect blend of mystery, every day drama, and the paranormal. The paranormal was definately the center of the story, but the subplots were equally as engaging. The themes of grief and guilt between Jared and Avery was heartwrenching, but due to a desire to not give a spoiler, I won't explain further! Charlotte's struggle to be normal and to be accepted was entirely relatable because everyone at some point in their lives feels that way.
The characters were extremely well-developed, even those that weren't at the forefront of the story. Charlotte was very easy to relate to as a person and was extremely likeable. You could feel her angst as if it were your own. Because there were things she wasn't being honest about, Avery was harder to get to know in the story, as you weren't quite sure if she was going to turn out to be good or bad. Jared's story just made my heart ache for him. The only characters I truly didn't like as much were Charlotte's parents, who were so wrapped up in their work that they tended to not really see their daughters and their problems.
The only thing that left me wanting was Dante the dog. A dog, I know! A point was made repeatedly throughout the book about his apparent dos;ike for Charlotte, and no explanation was ever made. Other than that one little silly thing, I absolutely loved this book! I absolutely recommend it and I cannot wait for the next one to come out!
Posted October 23, 2010
I loved Past Midnight! Charlotte is such a cool character, and it's very easy to relate...Well, except that ghost follow her around, but, the book is still awesome! We've all seen a ghost show in some shape or form (be it Ghostbusters or Ghost Hunters...) so it's easy to imagine floating orbs and entities for this book. It's none of that 'OMG what is she saying? I don't understand!' readers can fairly easily imagine something believable, as I did. I really liked how the book was focused on the subject: ghosts. It wasn't completely revolved around Charlotte getting a boyfriend, nor was she a whiny, annoying character. She thought logically enough, and the author did an awesome job at describing each setting--I still have (ghost) images of Charlotte's adventures in my head for some reason... There isn't much I can say without giving away the book, so I think I will shut up. I recommend this book for a quick read, and for people who enjoy ghost stories. I definitely can't wait for it's sequel, One Hundred Candles!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2010
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Posted August 27, 2010
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Ever since reading Mara Purhagen's fantastic first novel Tagged, I've been eager to read more by her, so when Past Midnight (her newest novel and a paranormal mystery at that!) showed up in my mailbox I was beyond ecstatic. And as it turned out that was just the right emotion to be feeling, because Past Midnight is an unputdownable ghostly paranormal read that I can't suggest highly enough for all you paranormal lovers out there!
From the first page the reader is thrown into the world of Charlotte Silver, a girl who has never been exactly normal thanks to her famous paranormal investigator parents. But this year, Charlotte's senior year, is going to be different; she's going to be normal. Because not only have her parents agreed to stay in one place for the year but she's already making friends at her new school. But as it turns out everything is soon to unravel. Because not only is she being stalked by scary paranormal beings, but her friends are getting closer and closer to finding out about Charlotte's parents occupation and she just can't have that now, can she? So now she's on the path to find out who (or perhaps what) is stalking her and how she can get rid of them once for all, but when her friends find out about everything, will they stick by her side? More importantly: will she make it out of high school alive? And most important of all: Will she EVER be normal? Only time can tell in this rich paranormal mystery by Ms. Purhagen.
Charlotte was a character I loved reading about, because, quite frankly, she was a pretty interesting girl. I especially loved the way she would go out of her to help her new friends, and the way she grew to understand that no one is normal or perfect for the matter, that you should just roll with the punches and live your life. My favorite secondary character out of the mix would have to be a tie between Avery and Noah, because both were characters that were not only fun to read about but ones I respected as well.
The plot of this was nothing short of fun, though why wouldn't it be? I loved the way Mara intertwined facts about paranormal investigating right along with the ghostly sub-plot, because paranormal investigating is a topic I always love to read more about. Making Past Midnight even better in my eyes was Mara's writing, which moved in a fun, fast paced sort of way, just like in Tagged.
In all, Past Midnight is a ghostly paranormal mystery and a fantastic start to a new series that I highly suggest you pick up the next time you see it in stores or online.
Posted July 13, 2010
Charlotte Silver's parents are ghost debunkers. Yep I said ghost debunkers think Ghost Hunters on sci fi. Sounds interesting right. Yeah sure unless your a teen starting your senior year of high school.
Charlotte doesn't want to be a paranormal problem solver she just wants to fit in and be normal for her last yr of high school, but unfortunately for Charlotte that isn't going to happen.
Her parents travel all over the country debunking ghost stories and their latest stop is in Charleston SC, which just happens to be where Charlotte's older sister Annalise is attending college.
They are trying to debunk some stories around the Courtyard Cafe and need the girls to help draw out the paranormal energy.
Something happens while the group is in the Cafe that really freaks Annalise out and causes some uneasiness for Charlotte. So when the parents decide they want to go back to the Cafe the only way Annalise agrees is on the condition that they will settle down and stay in one place for a year so Charlotte can go to the same school for her entire senior yr.
So when the family realizes that something from the Cafe has followed them home and that whatever it is seems to focus on Charlotte things start getting really weird. Or should I say weirder because things were already weird right?Because when your a teen and your parents are ghost hunters life is already weird...
This is a very fast paced paranormal read that really does have some awesome spooky elements to it. I also think the secondary characters Avery, Jacob, and Noah also have a great story line going on. Even though this is geared toward teens I really enjoyed it myself. I would have to say this story is a bit more than your average ghost story it also about a young girl realizing that being different is ok. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Purnhagen but it won't be my last. I give this book 5 stars and if your looking for a spooky read be sure and look for this book you won't be disappointed.
Posted July 8, 2010
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Charlotte just wants to spend her senior year of high school as a boring, normal girl. Kind of hard to do, when both of her parents are famous TV paranormal investigators. But when the opportunity arises to start over in a new place, Charlotte jumps on it. Unfortunately, something not-quite of-this-world has followed her and is going to make fitting in and meeting friends rather difficult. Then Charlotte gets the chance to use her experiences to help out her new friends, and life takes some very interesting turns.
This book was spooky! I admit my pulse quickened on more than one occasion, even while reading during daylight! It makes me want to put off other ghost story books in my reading pile for a while. Scares aside, I enjoyed it. I like Purnhagen's Tagged (reviewed here) and so I had high hopes for her second book. I loved the fact that Charlotte's parents researched the paranormal for a living, even though I cringed at their detachment towards their daughter's feelings. I liked meeting Charlotte's friends Avery and Noah. And best of all, I like how Purnhagen really saved the best surprises for the climax! This book would be a good choice for teens who like their ghost stories with a bit of science mixed in. Give it a try!
Posted February 16, 2011
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Posted June 21, 2011
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Posted March 23, 2011
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Posted December 14, 2010
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Posted September 5, 2011
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