Summary: The Presence by Eve Bunting is an intriguing ghost story with twists and turns that keep it from being too predictable. The characters are believable and it is easy to empathize with Catherine, the main character.
Catherine is spending the Christmas holidays with her grandmother while her parents take a vacation in Europe. Everyone who loves her is hoping that getting away will help Catherine deal with the accident that killed her best friend; the accident she feels responsible for.
At her grandmother’s church, Catherine meets Noah. He’s handsome, young, and tells her that he can help her contact the spirit of her dead friend and obtain forgiveness. Catherine is hopeful – if she could only know that Kirsty forgave her, she could move on and stop having the nightmares.
But something about Noah doesn’t seem right. No one else seems to notice him, even when he is standing right next to them. An old lady warns Catherine to avoid the church. And girls who look like Catherine have been disappearing over the years. Could it all be connected? And what can Catherine do? Should she meet him in spite of her misgivings?
The story is told from two perspectives – Catherine’s and Noah’s. The two together give the whole story, and the switches are well done. Whereas Catherine wants forgiveness, Noah wants love and companionship. Despite being the antagonist, he is not a strictly evil character, and this made him much more interesting than the usual ghostly bad guy.
My favorite character in this book is Catherine’s grandmother. She’s a spry old lady who loves her romance novels and enjoys playing matchmaker for her granddaughter. She’s the kind of grandmother that would be wonderful to have in real life – supportive and just nosy enough to show that she cares.
If you enjoy a good ghost story, pick up The Presence. Its blend of romance and mystery makes it an enjoyable read.
12 and up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: very mild
Violence: very mild