Secrets, lies, and teenage angst abound in Hotes’ (Josie Jameson and the Fourth Tombstone, 2015, etc.) second installment of a supernatural YA series.
Josie Jameson is not your typical 14-year-old. After losing her mother at 8, she grows up fast, shouldering most of the household burden while her father drowns in grief. The loss hardens and matures her but also leaves many unanswered questions. Surrounded by a group of childhood friends, Josie searches for the truth about her mother and finds more than she expected. After a fainting spell lands her in the hospital, she wakes up with a pacemaker implanted, and Josie begins to experience strange, vivid dreams. Asleep, Josie is transported to 1800s London through the eyes of Agatha, an Irish missionary. Upon realizing that Agatha’s adventures are strikingly similar to actual historical events—like the push for women to take more active roles in the church—Josie plans to learn the truth behind the dreams. Fresh, modern, and inventive, the novel alternates between Josie’s and Agatha’s worlds. Each chapter reveals pieces to the overall puzzle of how and why Agatha and Josie are connected. Agatha’s chapters unveil a world where a secret sisterhood works to glorify God by clinging to the ideas in the “lost Book of Mary.” They yearn to be martyrs and leaders in a patriarchal religion. Josie’s narrative includes hashtags and relationship drama, making her seem authentic and contemporary. Hotes carefully layers Agatha’s tale and hints provocatively at what makes Josie so special. Certain key moments, however, such as a character’s struggle with depression and the ultimate big reveal, resolve without the same care and attention given in the novel’s ascent. But Josie—loyal, determined, and vulnerable—is a character readers will want to know better.
A delicious supernatural mystery that spans centuries.