PARANORMAL LEGACY by Caitlin Hensley

PLAfter moving to a rural Pennsylvania town, cynical teen Haily Long soon discovers that the next-door neighbors are paranormal creatures of darkness. Despite this little quirk, the Knight family seems friendly enough, especially handsome Nathan. Nathan is well-mannered and polite, your typical boy next door…except for the fact that he turns into something else once a month. In a matter of days, Haily is drawn deep into a shadowed world of danger and deceit, and learns startling truths about her own past. When sinister strangers come sniffing around town for Nathan, and Haily gets pulled into the resulting chaos, she must discover how to discover her true heritage if she wants to survive.  (Add to Goodreads)

Review

First, the politely expectant elephant in the room: I’m typically not a fan of paranormal stories that flip things around and make the monsters the heroes. When a vampire’s a creature that goes to work or school and acts like a normal guy–just one with a quirky diet–it takes all the fun out of things. Where’s that inhuman edge that makes monsters interesting villains, you know?

But I met the author of Paranormal Legacy several years ago, and I ended up reading this series.

More than that, I ended up loving it. Despite the fact that the blurb itself says that the paranormal neighbours are polite, upstanding citizens, this kicks off a series I can really get behind: Jake West is one of my Favourite Characters of All Time, the snark is almost non-stop, and there’s plenty of action tossed in.

It all starts when two strangers try to break into Haily’s house in the middle of the night. Instead of calling the cops, Haily’s mom, Caylin, hauls Haily and the family dog off in their car, not stopping to pack or even glance behind them.

Like that’s not weird enough, it seemed like Caylin knew said strangers. Caylin drags Haily across the country and basically forces a reboot of their life, but she still refuses to share with the class about what the heck is going on. As it turns out, though, she doesn’t have to. Those strangers catch up with them before too long, and forget the closet–they bring a whole basement full of Long-related skeletons with them. When Haily’s family secrets intersect with those of the next-door neighbours, things get interesting.

But they get fun when Jake hits the scene. He’s one of those two strangers who broke into Haily’s house and confronted her mom, but as it turns out, they had a reason to. They end up staying with the Longs, much to Haily’s chagrin–and the delight of sensible readers everywhere.

After all, more Jake means more laughs. He’s got something witty, irreverent, and totally shameless to offer up in any conversation, but he also has this dark streak at his core. Though that dichotomy is explored more deeply later in the series, we see Hensley start to delve into it toward the end of Paranormal Legacy. I’m a fan of this development, because as much as I love a (clever) class clown, I love a wiseguy with a tragic core even more.

Basically, Jake’s pretty much the best thing ever, and together, he and Haily are basically the king and queen of banter. Think early Castle, but they don’t take themselves quite as seriously. Paranormal Legacy is worth reading for its dialogue alone, but it also tells a really human story–which plays interestingly with the generally inhuman cast. So despite the fact that “polite” (nope), “handsome” (double nope) Nathan makes me want to punch things, and the fact that I normally don’t like the friendly-monsters take on the paranormal, I’m a huge fan of this series.