Plot: Bliss grew up on a commune in California without any other kids her age. When her parents flee to Canada to escape the Vietnam war, they leave her with her grandmother in Atlanta. She is excited about starting school for the first time and finally making some friends. Until she hears the voice. It is told that when Crestview Academy was still a convent, one of the novices killed herself and that her spirit still haunts the school. Bliss knows that this tale is true: she can hear the ghost whispering terrible things. But worse, someone seems intent on waking the spirit through some dark ritual.
This novel gave me a bit of a Carrie vibe from the start and as I was a Stephen King fan as a teen, that wasn’t unwelcome. Myracle’s novel isn’t quite as bloody and scary (though it has it’s moments), but once more we have a tormented outcast wreaking terrible vengence on those who wronged her. Or so it seems. The politics of Myracle’s high school and the teens who inhabit it are much more complicated than they first appear, and that is part of what makes her novel interesting.
The narrative alternates between Bliss’ first person narration and the diary/notes of someone known as S.L.L. The whole is framed by the gruesome (especially because they really happened) Tate-LaBianca murders and punctuated by quotations, mainly from The Andy Griffith Show and the Manson trial. The graphic designers did a great job at expressing these different voices visually. It’s a striking book. (And I must say, the geek in me loves when books have a note on the typeface.)
S.L.L.’s notes start out vaguely comical:
- Regular [the cat], when placed in a closet with a dead snake, objected strongly.
- Snake remained inert.
But they quickly take a turn for the macabre. We soon discover the workings of a truly twisted mind. Though S.L.L. will give you chills, there is added horror in the dawning realisation that Bliss has misjudged the people around her and that this error in jugement has set into motion a terrible series of events. The ending is truly tragic.
Bliss wasn’t scary enough to give me sleepless nights but it was a good, engaging read that gave me a shiver more than once.
Author: Lauren Myracle