Jane Eyre was no Hawaiian surfer girl, but her story provides the framework for Gagnon’s clever update of the Brontë classic. Janie Mason, forced to leave Kona after her parents are killed in a helicopter crash, finds herself in the gloomy San Francisco mansion of the Rochester family, her new guardians. She’s coolly welcomed by matriarch Marion, who seems to detest her on sight, and imposing patriarch Richard. The only friendly Rochester is six-year-old Nicholas, but Janie errs by mentioning Eliza, learning too late that she’s Nicholas’s recently deceased twin (with whom he still regularly converses). School isn’t any better, though Janie eventually meets a boy, Daniel, who has baggage and bad blood with the Rochesters. Gagnon (Don’t Let Go) plays up the gaslighting element of the story well: when things start going bump in the night, Janie isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or if someone is trying to make her believe she is, perhaps even the newly arrived Rochester bad boy, John. Fully rounded characters and abundant suspense help Gagnon’s novel hold its own amid other contemporary Eyre reimaginings. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephanie Rostan, Levine, Greenburg, Rostan. (Apr.)
Praise for Unearthly Things
“Effortlessly paced, full of heart, humor and horror, Gagnon revives the spirit of a classic while putting her own unique spin on the story. Janie is sympathetic and brave, the perfect lens for us to peer into a world of grandeur, secrets and dark lies. You can't help but lament the family Janie lost while also cheering for her to succeed in her new and strange reality. Charlotte Brontë would never have guessed that her classic fits so well with a Mean Girls twist, but the blend is addictive, fast-paced and haunting.”
—Madeleine Roux, New York Times bestselling author of the Asylum series
“Haunting in the best possible sense, from the first page to the very last twist.”
—Leslie Margolis, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Brooklyn mysteries
“A page-turning ode to Jane Eyre with a ghostly twist, Michelle Gagnon’s Unearthly Things haunts and delights. Orphaned Janie Mason uncovers the awful secrets hidden behind the seemingly perfect high society life of her new guardians, the Rochesters. A deliciously terrifying read with a heroine worthy of Charlotte Brontë’s classic.”
—Joy Preble, author of It Wasn't Always Like This
“Inspired by Jane Eyre, Michelle Gagnon gives a new take on the classic tale. Making Janie an outcast surfer and having her explore social and cultural differences between the upbringing of her Filipina mother and white father make Unearthly Things a clever update of Brontë’s classic. The fast-paced suspense of the novel along with the depth of thecharacters makes Gagnon’s work worth reading for both mystery and Brontë fans alike.”
—The Popular Culture Association
"The pace accelerates, suspense builds, and stakes mount . . . Jane Eyre has inspired retellings from literary gems to pallid retreads; Gagnon's version stands up to the competition, slyly toying with readers' expectation to surprising, entertaining effect."
"A clever update of the Brontë classic . . . Fully rounded characters and abundant suspense help Gagnon’s novel hold its own amid other contemporary Eyre reimaginings."
“Jane Eyre fans will enjoy picking out the commonalities . . . Fate handles her roughly, but like the original Jane, our Janie discovers an inner fortitude. Hand to fans of Lois Duncan–style mysteries.”
“The pacing here is terrific . . . a thrilling climax allows all the loose ends and just desserts to snick into place.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“This fast-paced retelling of Jane Eyre will appeal to fans of contemporary Gothic . . . Pair this with the classic novels Jane Eyre or Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.”
—School Library Connection
"Failing family fortunes, wails in the night, bizarre dreams . . . Teens who like gothic fiction will find this enjoyable."
—School Library Journal
“A real treat . . . For those who aren’t too into horror, but every now and again are looking for a bit of a spooky tale without having to keep the lights on for weeks while sleeping, this is definitely a great book to pick up.”
—Here’s To Happy Endings
Gr 9 Up—San Francisco is a world away from Hawaii for surfer Janie, whose parents have just died. Her new guardians, the Rochesters, are an old money family with buried secrets and old feuds. Janie has a hard time processing her guardians' silent, formal dinners. Everyone fears patriarch Richard Rochester's explosive temper, and Marian Rochester makes it no secret that she does not want Janie in her house. Daughter Georgina is a textbook mean girl, and oldest son John is the family's good-hearted black sheep, who bows to his father's will. When Janie hears strange screams and noises coming from the attic, youngest son Nicholas spins stories of his dead sister, Eliza, and swears that her ghost tells him to do things. Janie vows to discover the "ghost" and solve the mystery of the disturbed house. Failing family fortunes, wails in the night, bizarre dreams, and a fire that nearly kills her all convince Janie that the Rochesters are up to no good. Unfortunately, this Janie is a mere shadow of Jane Eyre: she does not have the original character's fire, spirit, or strength. Love interest Daniel comes off as weak and needy, and his breakup with Janie is ludicrous. The well-plotted gothic elements, however, will entertain many readers. VERDICT While the characterizations are uneven, teens who like gothic fiction will find this enjoyable. A secondary purchase for high school collections.—Pamela Thompson, Col. John O. Ensor Middle School, El Paso, TX
Newly orphaned Janie Mason moves from the Hawaii she loves to a chilly mansion in San Francisco, home of the strangers her parents named as her legal guardians: the Rochesters.The Rochesters, a white family, prove cold and unfriendly, as does their Filipina housekeeper, despite the fact that Janie's biracial: part Filipina, part white. Only the youngest Rochester, Nicholas, is friendly. Visiting her opulent room, he puzzles her with comments about his invisible twin sister. His father, Richard, Janie's legal guardian and an old friend of her father, scares Janie. Richard's wife, Marion, clearly detests her but complies with his orders, enrolling Janie in their daughter's private school, where Janie struggles to keep up. When her surfboard and wetsuit arrive from Hawaii, Janie heads to the beach, where she connects with a hot boy from school. At home, Janie's sleep is interrupted by strange sounds from the attic; someone rifles through her possessions when she's out. Older brother John, expelled from school, arrives and precipitates a family crisis that somehow involves Janie. The pace accelerates, suspense builds, and stakes mount to a denouement dished up with a side order of Gothic excess. If some questions go unanswered, genre fans won't mind. Jane Eyre has inspired retellings from literary gems to pallid retreads; Gagnon's version stands up to the competition, slyly toying with readers' expectation to surprising, entertaining effect. (Suspense. 12-16)