Cover Image: Jennifer Strange

Jennifer Strange

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Member Reviews

This isn't a graphic novel, but an illustrated YA horror. Netgalley tricked me is all and why this took so long for me to finish. Got this free for review.

Something about this seemed VERY familiar, but I couldn't really put my finger on it.

There were a lot of aspects about this I enjoyed, the setting for one (Savannah, GA - I could really envision it and feel those muggy summer days) and the sisterly bond for two, but man I didn't like Marcus. Even by the end I didn't feel he was redeemed more so excused. Eh.

The lore was interesting and I love me some demons, but at times it didn't follow its own rules.

My biggest complaint is the pacing. It felt very rushed and I know you're supposed to drop the reader into it, but I think this dropped us a little too far along into the timeline. I don't know. It was OK overall. Not sure if this is going to be a series, but is read the next one I think.
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I agree with other reviews that going in, I expected a graphic novel, or at least for it to be heavily illustrated. I loved the horror aspects, but it was a bit hard to get into and stay interested as it felt fairly flat overall.
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Jennifer Strange should have been classified as a ya novel instead of a graphic novel. I think that would help many of the reviews. We went into this book expecting a graphic novel, but instead got a book with occasionally a photo & journal entries. The story itself was decent.
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I requested this book thinking it was a graphic novel.
I don't know if because of that, but I was a little disappointed with the story and it took me a long time to adapt to the plot.
It is a YA book with supernatural content. I recommend it for people who like these elements and who don't expect just a book with a few images.

* Digital version of the book received by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *
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At last, a truly scary horror book.
The publisher’s blurb says; Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is the Sparrow, cursed with the ability to give ghosts and demonic spirits a body-a flesh and blood anchor in the mortal world with the touch of her hand. When a ghost attacks her high school and awakens her powers, her father dumps her unceremoniously in the care of her estranged older sister Liz.
Well, that was enough to grab my interest but honestly if I had seen it was a YA book I probably would have skipped it. So glad I never noticed!
The book starts like a hot rod with a shiny new Engine! Zero to sixty in 2.4 seconds...It has everything you could want in a ghost or horror story. Demon possessions, magic spells, thousands of the lost dead in Savannah, and the unbreakable bond of two sisters.
I loved this book! It was fun to read and Cat Scully, who has the best name ever, by the way, kept the pace fast and the story moving with few to no stumbles. You will not believe this is her first novel. You can tell she read a lot of Horror books and watched scary movies as a kid because she wrote a true horror story!
 
I received this book free from Haverville House Publishing, and Netgalley for my honest, unbiased review.
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This book is basically Supernatural if the brothers weren’t so close. And if they kept to hunting demons. And if it were a less likable story. What did I mean by that statement? I mean that the book’s got all the makings of something I would highly highly enjoy! But it falls terribly flat. And then I ended up not liking it. Like I have so many notes on my Kindle about this book but if I had to write down everything this post would be super long.

Jennifer moans on and on about Savannah, Georgia and how she doesn’t like it. And that it’s too hot. She breathes, and it’s too hot. She walks, and it’s too hot. And it’s too much for me. She was just an unlikable character – which made me sad because I did want to like this book a lot. She goes on about how her dad didn’t tell her anything (okay, sure, that’s fair. I can’t blame her for that) – but the dad didn’t leave any contact number? She’s underage and he’s her legal guardian? Or don’t they have other relatives who might know about this? Did the main character maybe mention this and I didn’t pay enough attention? Maybe.

The dad’s journal plays a big role in the book. My issue is that it’s probably touted as this know-all, be-all type of a thing – which can be written well – sometimes. The main character here is too fixated on the journal – but maybe that’s because her dad suddenly left her by her sister with just the journal and no questions answered.

Another thing – regarding the dad, and his leaving. Jennifer has a phone – and most probably access to the Internet. Why don’t we see her searching stuff up that show up in the journal – different types of supernatural entities. She’s a teen with access to the Internet!! Why wouldn’t she research it?

A lot of things were confusing throughout the book? To me it felt like there should’ve been a lot more – both character and plotwise – because they needed a lot of work. But I can tell you that I didn’t like any of the characters. I didn’t feel much for any of them, sad as that is to say. And it’s not that I didn’t want to like them! I did, I did try to like them, they just didn’t hold any interest for me. I think the one character I did sort of like was Marcus, but then his character development was so confusing I don’t even know if he had one?

Also, I know this isn’t a final copy, I know how arcs aren’t properly formatted, that’s all fine and well. I’m used to arcs not being a 100% formatted. But this book could’ve been a little better formatted imo?

 

Did anyone ever contact the school to excuse her from classes?
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A great idea that faltered in the execution. There is no grasp of pacing or characterization. It reads like a rough draft...the author writes in circles, simultaneously providing too much and too little exposition. I'm very disappointed, because this was one of my most anticipated books of the year.
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After reading Adam Cesare's excellent Clown in a Cornfield earlier this year, I decided I absolutely had to check out more YA horror. Enter Cat Scully's Jennifer Strange, which crossed my radar thanks to a few mentions by Christopher Golden, along with blurbs from him, Bracken MacLeod, and James A. Moore, all fine gents in their own rights and authors of some really good books, as well. 

Scully takes us to Savannah, Georgia where Jennifer has just been dumped on her older sister's doorsteps by their father, who's run off to do some research for his work. What Liz doesn't know is that Jennifer has special abilities, was recently attacked by a ghost, and that their nerdy, bookish, AWOL father is actually a ghost hunter. With a touch of her hand, Jennifer can give ghosts and demons a body, allowing them to operate more concretely in the world of the living. After being attacked during her first day at her new school, and again later that night, it appears there's some twisted manipulations happening in the underworld and the sisters have to find out why, and how to stop it. 

Jennifer Strange carries with it a lot of familiar ingredients, oftentimes feeling a bit like a CW drama. There's a dash of Supernatural, a pinch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even a little bit of Harry Potter-like elements for good measure. I've enjoyed each of these individual components over the years, but having them all mixed together left me with a bit of an odd taste.

Tonally, the book is a bit all over the map for the YA demo. It's sweary as hell, which I appreciated because it helped lend a sense of authenticity to our high school and college aged protags, and skews it toward the upper age range for YA lit. Young adults certainly know their colorful four-letter words and the Strange sisters let 'em fly with regularity, and more power to them! Scully conjures up some nice mental imagery of the various nasties the girls have to face (I loved her description of the Banshee!), but doesn't get too carried away. If anything, as a YA book with a pair of girls in their mid- to late-teens, she probably could have pushed the envelope a bit further and gotten edgier with her descriptions and plotting, and really bloodied things up. The illustrations and journal entries accompanying many of the book's chapters, though, looked to me as if they're skewing toward a much younger crowd and came off as more cartoony than the otherwise largely safe-playing prose they're servicing. The 13- and 14-year-old readers might dig the art, but older YA audiences might find themselves wanting more mature renderings of the characters and monsters. 

At times, Jennifer Strange feels like it's trying too hard to appeal to the YA demo as a whole, putting enough foul language in to appeal to the late-teens crowd, while striving to look more innocent for the middle schoolers. It's a mixed bag that doesn't always work, and even with my limited exposure to YA material I couldn't quite figure out which age range this book was intended for. It tries hard to appeal to all YA readers, but thinking back to the type of horror I was reading at 16 or 17 I likely would have found this book too kid friendly to satisfy way back when.

Ultimately, at 41 now, I'm not the target demographic for this book, but I did enjoy it and found it to be a quick, breezy read. I suspect younger readers and horror newbies will find a lot to appreciate here, though, and when my kids come of age I suspect Scully's debut could be a good starting point for them to get into horror. In fact, I'm hopeful that Jennifer Strange can act as a gateway drug into the larger realms of the horror genre for all those many younger readers who latch onto it early. While Mommy and Daddy are reading Ania Ahlborn, the kiddos can enjoy some Cat Scully when they're done with their homework. If things go well, those kids will be asking the most important question among readers, "What horror book should I read next?" while they patiently wait for their next Strange adventure.
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Jennifer Strange was just the book I needed, although I didn't realize it when I started off. 
Jennifer starts off sounding like most teenagers, but quickly takes you down the rabbit hole with her. You feel it when she's scared by what's going on around her. When she gets angry (which is quite often, reminding you of another pair of supernatural hunters...) you understand it, even if you think her actions are over the top. 

The story itself had me confused at first because of the way the book is described, but once I got things sorted out, it was compelling. The only complaint that I had was towards the 3/4 mark I felt things  became a bit rushed. It felt as though there should have been more to the story that was left out.  

The ending though... that was amazing. Absolutely, stunning and unexpected. I loved seeing Jennifer come into her own, even when facing off against something much bigger than she had expected. And the outcome didn't feel  like many hero stories where the 'good guy wins, even if he's facing insurmountable odds, just because the hero has to win." It felt very real.  

I honestly cannot wait to see more from this author, and I hope that Jennifer Strange gets a second book.
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This is a fun YA horror story and I can totally see a series with this! It had all kinds of vibes: spooky, demons, ghosts, 'magical' powers, sibling bonds, etc. And what's even more fun is that this novel has incredible illustrations throughout and even handwritten journal entries. I would consider this 80% novel/20% graphic novel if that makes sense.

I totally flew through this story and I think anyone could do the same! There were some wild action scenes, emotional sisterly bonding scenes, and some intense family secrets and past that come to haunt the present.

I am definitely looking forward to more in this series (fingers crossed!) and recommend this to any YA horror fan! 3.5 stars and rounded up for NetGalley!
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Review for Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully
3.5/5 stars
It took me a while to warm up to the writing style. The prose sections were clunky and sometimes felt like a slog to get through. For example, When it came to her first encounter with a demon, I couldn't really feel the tension. However, the imagery was done really well as it was successful in eliciting fear and worked really well with the theme of the book. At the beginning of the book, the main character felt like a stereotype. However, as the book goes on she began to feel more three-dimensional. It was interesting to watch her character grow, and I found myself starting to like her. Even though it was presented as a graphic novel, it really isn't. It's more of a mixture between prose and graphic novelisation, which is an interesting mix of genres that kept me curious. Overall, this was an enjoyable genre-bending read even though it could've been improved in certain areas.
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Jennifer Strange is a young adult novel that masterfully straddles multiple lines. On one end, it is a young adult fantasy, not unlike the Mortal Instruments series. On the other, it is a dark and frightening supernatural horror, much like the Paranormal Activity movies. It uses the darkness and grittiness of the horror to temper the sappy teenage emotions, and then uses those feelings to keep the supernatural rooted in reality.

Jennifer is one of two girls born with supernatural powers, called Sparrows. She is the Sparrow of Summoning, who can give bodies to ghosts and demons just by touching them or their hosts. As an equivalent exchange, a golden mark grows across her body. If it consumes her, she dies. So of course, as soon as her powers manifest, her father dumps her off with her sister in the most haunted city in the United States. Smooth move. After an encounter with a demon that kills most of her class, she is led down a rabbit hole of dark spiritual activity that only she and the Sparrow of Banishing can handle…

But can she handle it? With no training, and her father’s journal half-ruined, Jennifer has no idea about the rules of her powers, or who the Sparrow of Banishment is. Her only help is the surly Marcus Blackwell, a boy in her class who is also heir to a line of psychic exorcists. Oh, yeah, her sister is there too, but how much could she know about all this (wink, wink)?

I thought my only issue with the story was Marcus. I spent most of the book angry with his behavior. He continually flip-flopped for no reason. He began as an absolute jerk to Jennifer because she couldn’t control a power she never got trained in. Then, upon learning her father abandoned her, he was suddenly okay. One little event later, he hated her again. I thought that this would be a fatal flaw in the book, but as I got close to the end, his behavior is given a reason. His irrationality was instead a subtle clue as to his own story, and I liked that.
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Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange was dropped off to live with her estranged sister, Liz, with little information, besides a journal, from her father. We quickly discover that Jennifer is a “Sparrow” cursed with  abilities to give demonic spirits and ghosts a body by her touch, though at a great cost to her. The estranged sisters bond like their lives depend on it, may because they do. They just want to live normal lives go to school, but is living a normal life really worth the lives of others?

This story was captivating and had all the gore and ghostly paranormal anyone could ask for. Jennifer and Liz make a power team and you find yourself routing for throughout everything they encountered all while trying to investigate the mystery that is their parents’ past. Jennifer grows immensely by the end of the story and does whatever she has to in order to save the people she loves, even if that means sacrificing herself. 

Personally, I loved the gore and the descriptions of the different paranormal entities. The banshee was fabulously described and I absolutely loved her backstory. I was scared for a little while that there was going to be some romance (like hate to love) that would ruin the story for me, but the focus stayed on the sisters and their family which really made the story so fabulous.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars, only because I felt like the ending could have been a little different to make it better (I think I wanted to see more loss/sacrifice). Regardless, I HIGHLY recommend.
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This is an excellent YA horror that will keep you on the edge of your seat! This book is fun, spooky and kooky and gave me all the Halloween-y vibes I crave and wanted. It's fast paced, has a lot of heart and I could not put it down! Cat Scully is an excellent writer, and I hope I get my hands on a final copy of this book because it was just so good!

Thank you to NetGalley and Haverhill House Publishing for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.
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Newly discovered superpowers and starting high school, what could possibly go wrong? This book is definitely not for middle grade as there is a lot of cursing in this haha. The story was interesting and had lots of twists and turns. The action was constant and I enjoyed the addition of snippets and drawings from her father's journal. Overall an interesting read for sure.
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I read this book in one night because I simply couldn’t put it down. I had so many questions from the start and needed them answered before I went to sleep! This action-packed story gave me gory-geously creepy and ‘Supernatural’ vibes.

Jennifer Strange, a teen trying to control her demon-summoning powers, moves to Savannah, GA to live with her sister while her father leaves to find answers. He gives her his journal to hopefully provide insight into her powers. Weird, horrific things happen to Jennifer when a demon possesses a classmate on the first day at her new school. Although her and her sister, Liz, definitely don’t get along, they discover a sisterly bond – with Liz having the demon-banishing power – in the middle of all this supernatural chaos. With more spooky, terrifying encounters, they must learn to work together to uncover family secrets about the Black Gate.

Not only do I devour ghost and supernatural stories, but especially ones that take place in the South and this got eaten up quickly! Overall, I enjoyed this unique story – a gruesome entanglement of supernatural and dark fantasy with its intermittent illustrations and journal entries of clues. I would recommend this book and definitely read the sequel!

JENNIFER STRANGE is a young adult fusion of so many things I adore, including MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, BUFFY, and SUPERNATURAL, but I’d also add STRANGER THINGS and CRAZYHEAD to this list.

And, P.S. – there’s a lot of puking in this story.
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Thanks to net galley for the digital arc of Jennifer strange in exchange for my honest review.
It should be reclassified as a ya novel NOT graphic novel. I think that would help many of the reviews. We went into this book expecting a graphic novel but instead got a book with occasionally a photo & journal entries. The story itself was decent. Sisters Jennifer & Elizabeth Strange know nothing about them having powers until they are thrown into a world of ghosts demons banshee wraiths, all that & have to fight it and save their family and friends. Horror YA without being too scary so would appeal to young teens more than ya in my opinion.
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Unfortunately, this one wasn't for me. I expected it to be more of a graphic novel rather than a novel with some images. I found myself unable to get into the story, mostly because I was surprised by the age range and the structure of the story. I think if it had been marketed as a novel I would have found it more approachable.
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Although this has been marketed more as a comic/graphic novel, it is far from it. The entire book is mainly in prose and has the occasional comic pictures and journal entries here and there.
The book definitely had vibes of being a debut novel.
The action felt a bit all over the place, like it was not meant to be there in the first place. And unfortunately did not really love it.
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The definitely had vibes of being a debut novel. This is marketed as a graphic novel and it is more a regular novel with some art in it. Definitely more wordy. 
There is a good mixture of horror in the book, which I did enjoy but the action felt a bit all over the place and unfortunately did not really love it.
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