Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Ruined

By Paula Morris (Website | Blog | Twitter)
Series: Ruined, #1
Published: August 1st, 2009 by Point
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt, who reads tarot cards. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey gives Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans.

There's just one catch - Lisette is a ghost. A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca is drawn deeper into a web of old curses and cryptic customs, she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Morris has an enviable ability to produce a novel so rich in history and details and culture without making the reader overwhelmed. Usually paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptions are daunting for me. I just want to get back to the plot. But with Ruined that was not the case at all. Everything Paula Morris wrote was relevant to the story and to Rebecca's growth as a character. I got lost with the ornate descriptions of historic mansions, debutante gowns and Mardi Gras festivities transforming into vivid scenes in my head many many times while I was reading.

I LOVED all the history and detail tied in about the mid 1800s and the ever present effects of hurricanes, as well as the historical allusions and parallels. The Romanesque class divisions at Temple Mead created a refreshing twist on the conventional archetype of the select few lucky enough to be considered teen royalty - the popular, rich, arrogant and connected girls. "Them" as Rebecca's cousin Aurelia puts it. All of the characters are believable and realistic. It's super easy to see them grow and understandable why some are simply stuck in their own world.

Initially Ruined starts slowly, with a whining and frustrated Rebecca. But it picked up speed fast. The ending was a little abrupt and crammed with those important little details that make the story so good. All the details and answers Aunt Claudia told Rebecca before the climax detracted from the mystery, however. If some of them came during or after the final graveyard scene, that encounter would have been more haunting and intense.

The mystery was somewhat predictable but it is definitely worth every minute. Morris utilized the supernatural elements with Lisette's ghost extremely well, same with the curse and the voodoo. Again, there was just enough ghosts and witchcraft in the novel to create a haunting atmosphere without suffocating the reader and leaving them in an unfamiliar world. These elements captured and tied in New Orleans's diverse and eclectic culture, playing on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the influence of foreign countries such as Haiti and France.

I would definitely recommend Ruined to anyone who enjoys traveling to new places, ghosts, murder, and who enjoys plot twists - this book is full of them.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Other Titles in the Series:
Book 2, Unbroken, is set to release in February 2013.

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