Saturday, April 19, 2014


Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Genres: YA, Mystery, Fantasy, Romance
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.


Paper Valentine is a lovely clean, yet refreshing, relaxing and thrilling read. Hanna, the main character, still stuck in the sadness and horror of Lillian's self-destructive illness and death, is trying to enjoy a normal summer with her and Lillian's old group of friends. While Hanna still has Lillian's ghost with her, this isn't working out very well and the friendship is kind of forced and artificial. Lillian, however, is determined to help Hanna solve the string of murders committed in their town.

At the beginning of the book I thought Hanna didn't have the strength of character I like to see in a young adult female lead. This changes as Hanna is forced into dangerous situations and has to make difficult choices.

Lillian, with her fascination for the horrific and the macabre, helps Hanna to remain focused on the murders. Her judgment is, unfortunately, not always as sound when it comes to judging the characters of some of the boys in Hanna's life.

Although comfortably paced, the story moves along in such a way that it became difficult to put the book down. If there are any lengthy, dull moments in the earlier part of Paper Valentine, the extremely suspenseful, action packed end certainly makes up for that. For those who are afraid of ghosts and hauntings, this book will hold an extra thrill.

If I had teenage children, Paper Valentine is the kind of book I would gladly advise them to read. Not only is this captivating paranormal murder mystery a suspenseful and thrilling read, it is also about growing up, personal growth and moving on.

The gentle, heartwarming romance in this book just makes the story that much richer. I happily recommend Paper Valentine as a tale filled with excellent prose, lots of excitement, and a healthy dose of depth and wisdom.



Brenna Yovanoff is one third of the Merry Sisters of Fate along with Maggie Stiefvater and Tessa Gratton, whose flash fiction can be found here. She lives in Denver, Colorado. THE REPLACEMENT is her first novel.

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