This gripping quote from the prologue of The Other Side: Melinda’s Story seals the fate of readers. There is no turning back and an urgency sets in to read on – to solve the intriguing mystery that author Starr Gardinier Reina has begun in the space of one page.
Billed as a young adult paranormal story, the book may have the youthful tone of a young adult novel and the protagonist, Melinda James, is a young adult herself. But the book’s appeal goes way beyond one genre. Paranormal fans and mystery/suspense lovers of all ages will be captivated as well.
The prologue opens at the funeral of Melinda’s father. His spirit appears to her, warning of danger for the entire family. Melinda, barely a teenager at the time, seems to be the only one to notice that the deceased is in fact very much around…and this will prove to be her blessing but also her downfall.
The “other side” in the title refers to the term used to describe where our spirits go when they pass away. Melinda’s belief in her communication with her father’s spirit, however, plus the fact that her mother, brother Kyle and her best friend Beth all end up tragically passing away, puts her under suspicion and lands her in a mental institution named Skyview Haven when she is 14 years old. The actual story picks up in that institution eight years after Melinda was committed there by her aunt and uncle.
Through the years, she has faithfully told the same story to numerous psychiatrists. She insists that she has indeed been in contact with her father’s spirit and that his death was no accident and her family was murdered. But this has jeopardized her chances of ever being released from Skyview Haven. Then, enter Dr. Alex Leever, a new psychiatrist who says he’s open to her story and will reserve judgment until hearing all of it. Melinda knows that if he believes her, he just may be the one guiding light leading to her release.
However, she is still receiving messages from the other side, and they are now warning her that she, too, is in great danger and that “they”, meaning the killers, are getting closer to her. A new friend named Trent also enters her life and she wants to trust him…but is it wise?
Without giving much more information that could spoil this action-and-thrill-packed read, suffice to say that this suspenseful tale is hard to put down. Whether or not you believe in the spirit world, it’s worth putting aside your prejudices and just going along for the very entertaining ride. People are not as they seem, danger is lurking nearby, we read passages labeled as coming from the “other side” and even if you may figure out who the villains are, it won’t spoil a minute of the fun.
Published simultaneously as a review on www.bookpleasures.com.