Unraveling Isobel Hardcover – Jan 3 2012
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"Isobel, all snark and sharp edges covering some intense vulnerability as she continuously checks in to see if she has crossed into mental illness (as her father did when she was young), is a compelling narrator." --The Horn Book, January/February 2012
“Spine-tingling setting….Isobel’s sass and her steamy romance with her new stepbrother will help readers race toward the dramatic conclusion.” --Publishers Weekly
“This blend of paranormal romance, murder mystery and quirky, coming-of-age narrative offers tasty moments….Cook gives readers a fast-paced plot, a likable narrator, and interesting characters.” --Kirkus
“Ideal for readers who like their stories supernatural but their dream guys human.” –The Bulletin
"[Isobel] will quickly endear herself to readers. Cook combines the perfect mix of mystery and romance to create a delightfully creepy chick lit-y ghost story that will hook readers and keep them engrossed long into the night–preferably with the lights on." --SLJ
“A wonderfully creepy mystery….Snarky, funny….Will keep readers up late into the night….Exceptional.” -- Shelf Awareness
"Filled with wit and humor, Unraveling Isobel draws readers in not only with romance and intrigue but also the compelling voice of a strong protagonist....The text pairs a captivating mystery with intriguing commentary on mental illness...clever prose keeps readers engaged....Isobel makes for a complex and interesting heroine, with readers certain to root for her until the very end of this simple but well-crafted mystery."--Voya
“An addicting ghost story….This will pull readers in and have them quickly turning pages.”--Booklist
“[Isobel’s] voice is wickedly entertaining, and she is very likeable, frank and funny.” –National Post
“A fast-moving thrill-ride of a novel.” –The Winnipeg Review
About the Author
Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She is the author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, and What Would Emma Do? as well as the Fourth Grade Fairy series. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and dogs. Visit her at EileenCook.com.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Unraveling Isobel opens up with one of the best (hilarious and touching) things about the book - Isobel's tendency to turn her thoughts into lists - the first one being reasons for objections to her mom's speedy wedding to Richard or Dick, as she likes to call him. Just a snippet:
1. "His name is Richard, which is really just a fancy version of Dick. I don't think anyone should be in a relationship with a Dick.
5. Dick's first wife and daughter died seven months ago, and it seems to me he could have given it at least a year before bringing us in as the replacements. I may not be the queen of etiquette, but even I know some things are in bad taste."
By doing this, Cook sets up the background of the story well, and the reader instantly understands Isobel's strained situation with her new family and relocation, her crush on her stepbrother, Nathaniel, and her own snarky sense of humor. From the first page alone, I was already laughing and gaining an affection for Isobel.
When Isobel settles into her new room (which used to be Nathaniel's dead sister's room), and her new school, she learns of the haunted history of the estate and begins to see visions and signs of ghosts. The questions that arise are, is Isobel going crazy like her schizophrenic father, is someone trying to make her think she is going crazy, or is there really a ghost haunting her for help?
As Isobel attempts to answer these questions, I was impressed with the author's ability to unravel hints in a well-written, well-paced manner, as well as intersperse scenes of romance and humor, further endearing me to Isobel's plucky character and leaving me eager to find out the ending (I read this all in one sitting). I also found myself relating closely to Isobel with her outlook on school social "politics", and how she decided to play detective. I was pleasantly reminded of episodes of Monk and Murder She Wrote I have seen (great shows, by the way), when Isobel tries to set a trap to determine if there is a ghost or murderer. The twist at the end of the book was also statisfyingly unexpected, as I usually can figure those types of things out, but didn't until close to the very end.
Overall, Unraveling Isobel was a fun, stimulating, and creepy read (without blood and gore), and I was quite surprised how much I liked this book. I would recommend this to young readers (or those young at heart) who is a fan of mystery/detective shows/novels and who enjoys stories with a great mix of suspense, romance, and snarkiness. I definitely plan on reading other books by Eileen Cook, starting with "Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood".
First of all, I just want to say that I hated Isobel's mom and stepdad. They were incredibly heartless at times and it really bugged me. Not in the way that I thought it was unrealistic or anything, but more in the way that I just felt really bad for Isobel. Seriously, what kind of mom complains about all the years they've "given" their daughter.
Then there's the Isobel/Nate thing. I'm going to be honest, it really weirded me out. I understand that it's not technically illegal or anything, but it is certainly weird.
I appreciated the growth in Isobel and how she went from wanting to be friends with whoever would take her in to being proud of herself and standing up to catty biatches around her. Her inner turmoil over whether she was going crazy was interesting too. I can't imagine what it would be like to not only think you're going crazy, but to have basically everyone around you agreeing.
And then there's the creepy aspect. It really added something to the story that Isobel was constantly wondering whether she was crazy, but I can't say that I was always wondering what was real and what wasn't. I suppose it does leave it up to the reader to decide, but to me it seemed that certain things were obviously paranormal. It's up to you to decide for yourself, though ;]
The Nutshell: Though Unraveling Isobel didn't have quite the creep factor I was hoping for, it did still make me jumpy while reading at night. It's a lot deeper than just another scary ghost story too, though. Isobel has to deal with having a father with schizophrenia and constantly wondering if she has it to. Not only that, but everyone around her - mom, stepdad, peers - are basically reinforcing the idea that there's something wrong with her. If you're looking for a good mystery with a strong character that leaves the paranormal element up to the reader, this is definitely your book.
Just months after meeting him on the internet, Isobel's mother has moved them to some tiny island to live with her new husband. It's Isobel's senior year and she has to leave Seattle behind, leave her friends behind. All to live with her mother and some man she doesn't even know in his huge, creepy mansion estate. Oh, and his incredibly good looking but incredibly off limits son, her new step-brother.
Just when Isobel thinks life couldn't get much worse, her first night in the house she sees something that leaves her with two options: Either she's losing her mind like her artist father did . . . or she just saw a ghost.
Isobel isn't quite prepared for just what life in this new town - and house - is going to bring.
Unraveling Isobel is like a perfect blend of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca and the Buffy episode "Ted," with a twist of Holly Schindler's A Blue So Dark.
The serious plot lines continue to progress and the characters develop all while this paranormal story line is happening. A paranormal background that, at first, seems like it may be imagined, but as things unravel we learn that there's more and more to it. And things get creepier and creepier. Both for the characters in the novel and for readers reading about it.
Unraveling Isobel doesn't go for the horror factor or pile of the gore of the violence, it's the best kind of creepy with things making you jump, things startling you, things being eerie or just that little bit off. It's fantastic.
That the interpersonal relationships don't suffer for sake of the paranormal in the book is great. Readers still get to see Isobel adjusting to being a new student (one who very much does not want to be there), learning things about her new step-father and brother - both from the island's residents and by living with them, and dealing with her mother and their relationship.
They also get to learn about the estate Isobel and her new family are living on - and what's happened there in the past. Big, creepy, old houses are perfect for spooky books.
There is one part/element that is pretty predictable (to say what it is would be spoilery, I think) but I don't think the story suffers for it. It may even supposed to have been that way - where the readers could guess it but not the character, I'm not sure.
Unraveling Isobel is a book I loved - one that is creepy, has a great setting (both the island and the estate) and the characters are well developed and have relationships with each other that progress well throughout the book. I hope you'll love it, too.
What a fun, creepy, sarcastic, entertaining read! I was really surprised by how much I liked this book, and I think a lot of that had to do with the story's protagonist Isobel.
Isobel is one of those characters who's so easy to like and she's someone that faces everything head on. Plus she's a strong, stubborn, snarky character who provides the right amount of humor to this story's at times creepy plot line. Then there's Nathaniel, I won't give away too much about him as the relationship that both he and Isobel have is a bit unusual, but it's well written. I really enjoyed getting to know him, and I loved the scenes he shares with Isobel. Even though there were moments while reading this story I thought "I've read this one before" I'm glad I kept reading, because their relationship is unique, and it's one that I was intrigued with especially given the situation they're in.
The setting itself isn't just creepy, it's haunted. Unlike a few ghost stories I've read lately, this ghost is one I couldn't help but like. Her story is beyond heartbreaking, and one that ties into the story's twisted plot line. Despite being able to predict most everything that happens in the story, I did enjoy it. There's a lot of great elements that Eileen throws into the story that kept me wanting to read more. Her story is entertaining and she uses the right amount of creepiness, romance and humor to keep me engaged with it.
I will say the step-father still takes the cake for creepiness. He had my skin crawling and he's one of those guys I couldn't help by think "I'd never let you marry my mom or live in the same house with you", type of guys. I was so infuriated with how Isobel's mother treated her daughter and was so quick to marry a man she barely even knew. What's worse was all the typical signs the step father showed through out the story for the type of guy he was (turned out to be), and yet the mother continued to side with him and ignore her daughter. I couldn't get over the way she treated Isobel. Luckily Isobel remains as stubborn and strong as ever and gets through all she has to deal with, with her wit and Nathaniel there to help her.
If you're looking for a book with an entertaining story line that has the right amount of creepiness, humor and a touch of romance than I'd recommend picking up Unraveling Isobel.
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