Book Review: Haven Waiting by Tifani Clark

I'm going to take an unusual step in reviewing this book. I'm going to recommend that you buy another book. Specifically, Shadow of a Life by the same author. It's the first book in this teen series, and I felt very disadvantaged as I read through Haven Waiting for not having read it. Haven Waiting doesn't really work as a stand-alone book; there are too many references to previous events and characters, and the mythology is difficult to understand if you haven't already got to grips with it in the first book.

Having said that, Haven Waiting is a great book for teenagers. There's plenty of action and intrigue, a bit of history education disguised as story, and the fairly simple style is appropriate to the age group. I found that I really couldn't like the character of Haven. She made some very poor choices, acted selfishly, and was, at times, quiet menacing and malevolent. This added to my desire to read the first book; I deduced that Sophia, the ghost character in Shadow of a Life, was a kind and sweet character. There's an interesting juxtaposition there, and a moral question. It's all very well saving the soul of a ghost you like, but what about when it's someone selfish and foolish, like Haven?

The developing romance between Jamie and Peter was sensitively handled given their ages, and I think this is something which will be interesting to follow across other books in the series. There is certainty plenty of scope in this original and well-handled concept of ghosts who need a particular teenage girl to help them move on, and there were enough intriguing hints dropped that I think readers will come back to follow Jamie's story.

I very rarely give five star reviews - and this isn't one of those times - but I think the two books, read together, merit a very firm four stars.


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