Book Review: Cranwood by J. Bryer

Cranwood cover

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Abby Hill and her mother have moved to England to help her grandmother run the inn she owns in Cranwood. However, Abby Hill isn’t a normal sixteen-year-old girl. No, no, no. She hears/sees dead people and tries to save the ones they warn her are in trouble!

For example, David, the cute neighbour in the village. Though she struggles with her visions, Abby is desperate to help everyone she can. When a particular haunting spirit warns her of friend in trouble, Abby will have to figure out who to ask for help or if she can try to do it all on her own.

The harsh reality: Well, I don’t have anything nice to say about this book, it’s terrible and there’s noting Young Adult about it. The book is written in an elementary age range instead of fourteen+. I’m talking, ‘I’m having the best day ever!’ kind of sentences. There is a time and place for juvenile writing, and Young Adult fiction is not it.  

For instance: Abby gets ‘mad’ that David hasn’t called her so she walks over to his house to see if he’s home. When he’s not, she pouts and hates her life until he finally calls which then the day suddenly becomes the best ever! I’m sorry, but nothing about that passage makes sense! How can a day be the best ever, when it clearly wasn’t?

Le sigh, the main problem is that the age range is all wrong for this book. If the author tweaked the characters age and made changes to the story that fit the writing range it might have a chance at working, but as is, it’s awful and I’m sorry for stating that. It’s not easy to hear but I grew so frustrated with the clunky language, thin plot and ignorant assumptions on people different from Americans. To top it off, Abby states how she’s been living in England for while, but her mother who must be English (because hello, the grandmother obviously is?), clearly only speaks like an American. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

And the cover? Beautiful, but honey there is no way that girl is sixteen. Try twelve and you’ve got yourself a better start. Make like a knitter and rip it up. Start over and either read a lot more R. L. Stine for appropriate age range or start reading constantly current YA fiction to learn how it’s written. The ideas are there, but there needs to be much more practice. 


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