The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is based on the YouTube web series of the same name.
Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother, Kat, move from sunny Austin, Texas to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just… creepy.
— From the book jacket of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
In The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Sunshine and her mom have just moved into a house that Sunshine is convinced is haunted. It starts out as your average routine haunting– footsteps and laughter in the night, doors opening and closing, things moving on their own. But it soon escalates into a full-blown nightmare, with just enough creeptastic scenes to make you want to sleep with the lights on for a few days. Along the way, Sunshine meets a boy named Nolan– the only person who seems to believe Sunshine– who helps her try to figure out who is haunting her house, and why. What they learn, not just about the ghost, but Sunshine herself, changes everything. It wraps up with a terrifying finale as Sunshine attempts to free the ghost from her house, as well as the dark spirit that has also taken up residence.
I came across the series before The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was officially released. An Advanced Reader Copy was sent to the bookstore I work at and as a Children’s and Teen Lead Bookseller, it was passed on to me to take a look at. I’m a HUGE fan of the show Supernatural, so I’m all about paranormal stuff. I could tell right away that this was totally up my alley. I devoured it and I loved it! Ghosts, hauntings, demons–what more could I want? Maybe a Winchester or two… but that’s a different story.
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing, she recently discovered– with the help of her would-be boyfriend, Nolan– that she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife. Now, Sunshine’s powers are awakening and she feels spirits everywhere– intense and sometimes overwhelming.
— From the book jacket of The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The sequel, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl, picks up within a few weeks of the climactic events of Haunting, as Sunshine is learning to use her powers as a luiseach– essentially a ghost whisperer– to help spirits move on to the afterlife. She quickly realizes that she needs the help of a luiseach mentor, her estranged father, to teach her the ways of her ancient race.
Secluded on what was once a thriving, but now abandoned luiseach training campus within the jungle of Mexico, Sunshine meets a boy named Lucio who has also been training with her father, Aidan. While she trains, she learns more about her powers as well as her family history, which may be more terrifying than the spirits themselves. She is the last luiseach ever born, and someone thinks destroying her is the key to saving their dwindling race.
While I enjoyed it, Awakening definitely has the “middle book” syndrome. It’s a set up for the conclusion of the series, with a bit of important information wrapped in filler fluff. While there are exciting scenes with spirits and a particular demon, they’re nothing like the creepy hauntings of the first book. You do at least finally find out the identity of the anonymous 1st person narrator featured in short chapters throughout the series.
I definitely recommend picking up at least the first in the series. Its very mild language and relationships (zero cursing, zero kissing) make it suitable for middle grades and beyond. It’s not too mature for middle grade readers (although there are some pretty intense and scary scenes), but not too low in reading and interest level for those beyond. I think it would be a good step up for tweens who love Goosebumps, but are reading at a much higher level. Or for anyone who loves a ghost story with a twist.
Find more about Paige McKenzie, as well as her book and web series.