An interesting gothic mystery, Paper Valentine’s certainly not predictable, as the denouement comes entirely out of left field — though this seems almost lazy as there’s not a clue to be found in the entire novel. The tale is really more of a coming-of-age story and, left simply, would have been much improved. The mystery adds a convoluted randomness that overshadows an otherwise empowering tale. Hannah is complicated and deserves unpacking; readers who like protagonists they can sink their teeth into will be pleased.
Hannah Wagnor is sweating her way through the hottest summer on record. Birds are dying and, suddenly, teenage girls are, too. Hannah is not unfamiliar with death, as the ghost of her best friend, Lillian, follows her everywhere. Lillian is the worst version of her living self — skeletal from the disease that killed her, sarcastic and mean. Pushover Hannah will find her voice in an ill-advised quest to uncover the murderer. (RAZORBILL, Jan., 320 pp., $17.99, ISBN: 9781595145994, HC, 12 & Up)