Jaime Reviews ~ Portraits of Celina by Sue Whiting

By Sue Whiting
Published on April 1, 2015
Published by: Walker Books Australia
Source: Netgalley
Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

"It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt."

Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it?

A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

Portraits of Celina...

I am always looking for a great YA horror/thriller/mystery. If ghosts are involved, I am even more amped up for a story. So Portraits of Celina seemed like the perfect book for me. While I liked the story well enough, there were a few things that kept it from being my perfect read.

Bayley and her family move to a tiny, country town a few months after the unexpected death of her father. Her older sister was getting into serious trouble, her mom was losing herself and her little brother was stuck wearing a cape, and pretending to be Batman. So their mother decides to move them all into the old family house, a house that no one has lived in for years. While moving into her new room, Bayley stumbles upon an old chest, and inside finds clothes and treasures from Celina O'Malley. Celina disappeared almost forty years ago, and no one knows what happened to her. Bayley finds herself becoming increasingly interested in Celina's old things; wearing her clothes, looking at pictures, sleeping in her room... When Bayley starts to feel strange, and strange things start happening, she decides that she has to help find out the truth for Celina, to help her. But is Celina really as kind as the people who knew her say? Or is she a dangerous ghost?

The best part about this book, and the part I wish had more focus, was the dynamics of the family. The parts that focused on their relationship was my favorite part. I kind of wish that the story had been about THAT. A grieving family healing. The Celina ghost story part wasn't bad at all, but it felt a little flat. I wish that there was MORE to it. I don't really know how to explain.

The other frustrating part of the book was the relationship between Bayley and Oliver. It felt like an afterthought, not a full piece of the puzzle. Finally, the characters themselves all needed a little more fleshing out.

Portraits of Celina is not a bad book, at all. I enjoyed it for the most part. I finished it up in a day, so that has to say something. I just feel like it could have been a much better story, with a little more TLC. 

Jaime Lynn

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