In this second installment of the Suddenly Supernatural series, 13-year-old Kat is still trying to get used to the abilities that surfaced in the first book: when she turned thirteen, she started being able to see spirits, just like her mother, who is a professional medium. Kat is still not too thrilled about her "gift," but she's trying to make the best of it.
The story opens at the beginning of spring break. Kat is feeling down because Jac, her best friend, has been dragged off to a conference for young musicians. Jac is an amazing cello player, a child prodigy, and her mother is very ambitious on her behalf - even though Jac is becoming increasingly ambivalent about her mother's career plans for her, particularly as Jac's opinions are never taken into consideration.
Kat, bored alone at home, decides to get started on a school project. With her new digital camera, she takes pictures of the empty house next door, and is surprised when she sees a face looking out at her from one of the windows. The house has been empty for years, hasn't it? Kat sneaks over the wall in the back yard and goes into the house, where she has an incredibly unsettling appearance.
At first I was skeptical about the fact that Kat keeps so much to herself, particularly when she is frightened, because she and her mother have such a close, positive relationship. After all, who better than her mother to explain and help her when she encounters difficulties of the supernatural kind? Kat's attitude is explained later on in the book, however, and luckily she meets a friend of her mother's who is able to help Kat gain some control over her new abilities.
While at times Kat's language is more adult than one might expect for a 13-year-old ("I don't know where Jac found the time to watch these ancient horror films, but she certainly had a commanding knowledge of them."), her thoughts and actions ring true, and I particularly love Kimmel's believable and moving portrayal of Kat's relationships those around her. Her friend Jac's mother is is a thoroughly unsympathetic character who seems indifferent to the needs and desires of her daughter, which is a stark contrast against Kat's relationship with her own mother.
This is an excellent series that is fast-paced and exciting, with interesting characters and an intriguing premise. The supernatural elements are intrinsic to the plot, but so are the regular, everyday issues that Kat and Jac are experiencing simply as young teens trying to find the right direction for their lives. I am very much looking forwar to the next book in this series, Unhappy Medium, which was released on April 1.
Books in the Suddenly Supernatural series:
1. School Spirit
2. Scaredy Kat
3. Unhappy Medium
Scaredy Kat (#2 in the Suddenly Supernatural series) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (Little, Brown and Co., 2009)
Also reviewed at:
Beyond Books: "I think the Suddenly Supernatural series is a fantastic young reader (middle grade?) series and the writing is clear and full of humour. Kimmel captures the young teen mindset wonderfully."
The Curious Reader: "I liked the fact that even while Kat was dealing with the spirit world, she and her best friend were also dealing with being thirteen. They both had to make decisions about being their own person and relying on themselves rather than on their parents."
PikeAlicious Books: "I loved this book! Way to go, Elizabeth, for taking what could be a very suspenseful genre and making it just a little edgy, but never overstepping the line of scary for younger kids."