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Unearthly Things

Review

Unearthly Things

Almost every night around three in the morning, Janie is awakened by strange sounds from the attic. Sometimes it’s the sound of scratching or a child crying, but the worst sound is when there are screams. No one else seems to hear these things. Perhaps she’s actually going a little crazy?

After her parents are killed, Janie is sent to California to live with the Rochesters, who are now her legal guardians. She is yet to understand their connections to her family but those stories slowly begin to unfold.

"Gagnon adds [an] edginess and unrelenting pace to UNEARTHLY THINGS. Without being familiar with JANE EYRE, readers will still enjoy the supernatural aspects and the gripping entanglements of this young girl’s situation."

Janie is missing the surfing, the warm sands of Hawaii and her old friends --- especially Kaila. She still longs for the comfort and love of her parents. Without question, the Rochester family has not been very welcoming. Mr. Rochester is just sort of okay, while the daughter, Georgiana, runs hot or mostly cold, and the little brother, Nicholas, has totally embraced her. He brings his bunny Bertha with him along with stories about a dead sister, Eliza, who he claims still talks to him (like that’s not totally creepy). The housekeeper, Alma, has a gruff unfriendly manner but not like the mother --- oh, the mother, she most definitely doesn’t like Janie. There’s something very odd about Marion Rochester. So now this is her new life: a family she doesn’t know, who doesn't care about her and seems to have plenty of secrets.

Things look up a little when she meets Daniel. He’s handsome, sympathetic and a friend in what seems to be a most unfriendly world. Another surprise comes when John Rochester unexpectedly shows up. John is the Rochester's oldest son, kicked out of several schools and eager to be her friend, or so she thinks. Unfortunately, there is some bad history between Johnand Daniel --- more secrets unfold.

Janie comes to realize some very important things: her life is actually being threatened, the Rochesters want something from her, and there actually is a ghost after her (after all, her furniture was mysteriously moved and there was a fire she barely escaped). She doesn’t yet understand that there are much worse things ahead.

Janie --- aka Janie Eyre Mason --- is a well-realized, modern interpretation of a young woman in deep trouble. Quotations from the original JANE EYRE appear at the beginning of each chapter, fittingly adding to the gothic atmosphere and its approaching dread. Character names also parallel those in Bronte’s novel.

Well known for her young adult mystery series, PERSEFONE, Gagnon adds the same edginess and unrelenting pace to UNEARTHLY THINGS. Without being familiar with JANE EYRE, readers will still enjoy the supernatural aspects and the gripping entanglements of this young girl’s situation.

The retelling of classic novels has become very popular in the last few years. UNEARTHLY THINGS can be added to the growing list of JANE EYRE-like books along with Catherine Lowell’s THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS, JANE STEELE by Lindsay Faye and THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY by Margot Livesey. Readers, I highly recommend Michelle Gagnon’s new interpretation!

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on May 1, 2017

Unearthly Things
by Michelle Gagnon