Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings
Official Summary: “15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend and uber-geek, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection. The house is occupied by a poltergeist and in order to reclaim it, Julie’s going to have to exorcise the spirit. Of course, she’ll need her mother’s help and what teenager in their right mind wants that? Surely she can do this on her own - right…?
But there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to Endless Night - a dark spell that rips her mom’s soul from her mortal body. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.”
Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings begins from what might seem like a common starting point. The main character, Julie, is a teenager who also happens to be a witch who is learning to understand her powers. She has grown up with a mother who is a skilled witch, but her father died when she was four and has receded almost completely from her memory by the start of the book. As the book opens, she is going door-to-door raising money for her high school with her best friend, Marcus. In the course of their fundraising, they happen upon an elderly member of the neighborhood being menaced by a poltergeist and Julie can’t help but take this opportunity to test out her powers without her over-protective (to her mind) mother watching over her shoulder or keeping her out of the fray. What seems like a simple poltergeist situation quickly snowballs into a much larger problem that is beyond even something that Julie’s mother can solve with ease. Julie must ultimately learn to use her powers much more quickly than even she intended. And, in the course of this sudden increase in responsibility, she comes to learn the truth about her own pedigree as well.
This novel jumps directly into the action, with both the elderly lady and her cat being ejected forcefully from their home as the book opens. This sets the tone for the entire story, which really doesn’t let up until the very end in terms of both action and plot twists. Cummings does a good job of crafting a character who has to deal with both the normal concerns of high school (she isn’t popular and she is starting to be jealous of her best friend) and with the concerns of a new witch navigating a world she is just starting to understand.
I think teen readers will identify with Julie’s frustration and arguments with her mother as well as with her relationships with her friends. They lend the world of the book at least some level of believability despite the magic that pervades the plot. The book is a fun option for fans of witches and spells who want a story about a teenager growing into her powers. I am sure it will leave many fans hoping that Cumming uses this as the beginning of a long running series.
Readalike: Fans of Poltergeeks will love other books about teens growing into their place in a magical world. I would recommend trying The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (which will also be released on October 2nd and which I reviewed earlier this year) or The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.
Note: Review based on ARC from publisher.
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