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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
Unhaunted is the first book in the White Crow Mystery series by Trisha Slay, and what a start it is! The fact that the author herself was brought up in a haunted house adds to the credibility of the overall appeal of the book. Asha is a fifteen-year-old girl who, like her mother, Xia Celeste, can see and communicate with the dead. If the cops require a push in the right direction in solving any case, they knock on Xia Celeste's door. Asha had made a promise to her dad, who has been missing for several months, not to be involved in her mother's psychic activities; however, one day when she hears the pleas of help from a dead girl named Ivy Brennan, and witnesses her mom misdirecting the cops, knowingly or not, she could not help but get involved. This incident sows the seeds of suspicion in her mind against her mom's ability to actually hear and see the dead. On one hand she is struggling with her dilemma to help or ignore the ghost of Ivy and, on the other hand, she is disoriented about her mom being a potential fraud. No matter how hard she tries, Ivy is reluctant to leave Asha alone. Now, Asha must make a choice either to help Ivy get justice or keep the promise that she made to her missing father.
There are a few basic parameters which help me decide whether I love a book or hate it: my connection with the characters, enough twists to keep me hooked, my curiosity to find out the climax, and fascinating storytelling. Unhaunted by Trisha Slay landed on all of these parameters. The characters are full of strengths, weaknesses, and all things human. Xia Celeste, for instance, is a complex character whom one cannot understand instantly. I loved her, hated her, and loved to hate her. Asha, though just a kid, is full of wisdom beyond her years and yet she is as vulnerable as one would expect a kid to be. The thought that her mother could be a fraud psychic terrifies her to the core. Her heart aches for her father, who promised to be back one way or another, but there is nothing she can do to bring him back. There is so much going on in her life that I, as a reader, found myself wishing for her happy ending. Although Unhaunted is a paranormal mystery, the murder mystery genre stole the show. The supernatural element is more of a guiding factor (as in steering the plot towards the murderer and leaving breadcrumbs here and there) than creating chilling horror. I loved this book a lot and enjoyed every moment of solving the murder mystery with Asha.