Windwhyst by Christine O'Neill
Release Date: September 7, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
I’m not usually one to read self-published titles, but the premise of Windwhyst was interesting enough for me to ignore its self-published status and give it s a shot. And I’m really glad I did.
Cole Anderson is your usual high school slacker. He’s a graffiti artist, failing his classes, being pretty invisible in school, and has the sarcastic attitude to match. But when he’s caught for defacing school property, Cole is told he must join the restoration team at the abandoned 19th century Windwhyst mansion. He’s joined in that project by his domineering tutor, Thea.
Thea Wallace is your stereotypical teen movie style overachiever. She’s, as Cole puts it, “President of This and That and Your Mom Club” (Windwhyst, page 7). So of course she’s involved in just about anything and everything that can be put on a college transcript, and anything that will help her succeed, while everything else like friends, is just a formality.
While working at Windwhyst, the two stumble upon a hidden room full of treasures. As they are browsing those treasures, they find Augusta and Josiah Lyons, brother and sister and that have been dead for upwards of 250 years. After meeting the Lyons’ and getting over the idea that ghosts don’t exist, they find that the ghosts aren’t something to be feared, but are people too.
After talking to the Lyons’, Thea and Cole are approached by PELF, a horror movie-esque company that wants to meet with the ghosts and study them. Thea and Cole come to find that PELF isn’t at all what they seem and is actually much more dangerous and deadly. PELF is the kind of company that would give Norman Bates a run for his money in the creep factor.
With the help of a third, ex-military ghost, the friends set out to defend the world and the lives they all cherish. Now they’re all thrown into a world of murder, history, love, war, laboratories, experiments, and PELF.
Now there is more at stake for Cole than he ever thought possible. He’s faced with difficult decisions in terms of love, life, and the survival of not only himself, but also of Thea and the ghosts. And the project Cole was forced into has now played a bigger role in his life than he ever thought possible.
I actually really liked this story. I adored the characters…at least most of them, and thought they were extremely well developed. Cole and Thea had this very amusing love-hate, push-pull relationship. They’re polar opposites and it totally works for them. The ghosts are very intriguing, they’re full of history and life; even if they’re not actually living per say.
I found the involvement of PELF and its employees to be a totally different twist on a typical ghost story. It made things dangerous and adventurous for our protagonists, and exciting for the reader. Plus with Cole as the narrator, it gave a nice change to the normality of having a female voice, and a different spin on the issues and conversations they all had.
I did find a few grammar and spelling mistakes here and there and while that kind of irked me a bit at the moment, there weren’t enough to take away from the story or to be a big enough distraction. And I have found that it’s fairly common to find some in a self-published novel. Also while reading this story I did come to find a few awesome facts, such as the author, Christine O’Neill, is not only sixteen years old, but Windwhyst was also her NaNoWriMo novel! Now how cool is that?
Personally, if I had seen this book in the bookstore, I probably would have skipped right over it based on the cover alone, but I'm glad I didn't. While the image makes me think of the Windwhyst mansion and I think it's cool that the author took the photo, I wouldn't have used it as a cover. I don't really think it fits the nature of the story, and unlike the story it contains, the cover is a bit blah.
I received this book for review for Teens Read Too.