Review: Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

Hanging by a ThreadHanging By A Thread by Sophie Littlefield
Paranormal YA
September 11, 2012
Delacourte Books

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote: “I wondered if I could live with the version of me that Rachel was trying to create.”

Clare, a budding fashion designer and clothing repurposer, doesn’t remember a whole lot about the sleepy seaside town of Winston, California, having moved away as a child. After her parents get divorced, she and her mother move back into the “haunted” family home and are attempting to start their lives over.

The town is getting ready to celebrate it’s annual Fourth Of July festival, but this year, a somber pall falls over the town. A suspected serial killer has struck twice and the town and it’s residents wait on pin and needles for him to strike again.
When Clare’s “gift” resurfaces with a vengeance, Clare knows that the sleepy town of Winston is holding some dark secrets, secrets that could shatter the town and her life forever.

The story begins with a look into Clare’s family history. Claire’s pregnant great grandmother was the victim of a violent crime. In the instance between her baby being born and herself dying, a gift developed. The women of her family are psychometric. They are able to see and sense emotions from clothing. Sometimes benign, sometimes violent, the gift skipped Clare’s mom and landed solely on Clare. Clare was warned as a child to ignore her gift for it will only cause her grief. Clare does her best but when she comes across an old designer jacket, one touch sends her into oblivion and her gift kicks back in with a vengeance. Clare searches for the the jacket’s owner and comes to find out it belongs to Amanda Stavros, a supposed victim of the serial killer. Further investigation leads her to the town’s #1 suspect, Jack Dimaunahan. Local bad boy and a serious crush for Clare.

Hanging By A Thread is a lightweight supernatural YA. I have been told this is the third book of her Banishing series but was unable to confirm that. Though smoothly written with a steady pace, the premise promised more than what was delivered. I expected more action, suspense, and definite inclusion of Clare’s unique gift. While the book was entertaining to a certain extent it was a low key entertainment, not eliciting much emotion either way for me. I’d classify this as a romantic contemporary with paranormal aspects.

We spend a great deal of time learning about Clare. Littlefield seems to do an in depth character analysis of her life and her passions (repurposing clothing) yet for all that is written, I ended the story feeling like I never really got to know the true Clare. Perhaps it’s because it was written in Clare’s voice, you miss the other characters observations which can sometimes bring us a deeper look at our protagonist. I did enjoy meeting her though. The repurposing of clothing is a particular interest of mine since I dabble in it and I like how Littlefield uses that to link her to the other “gifted” members of her family while creating friction between Clare and her mother. In the beginning, Clare has a nice bit of snark to her but it’s soon buried under a more mature attitude that had me having to reminding myself exactly how old she was.

Our secondary characters are abundant and personable, but again, we don’t get to an in depth look into their psyche. Jack is the typical misunderstood bad boy and I felt that his and Clare’s romance was a bit rushed. We get a “soul mate” feeling from Clare even while she questions his guilt but the chemistry is missing something. Her best friend Rachel was a little more developed but the build up of her character and her part in the drama feel flat once details were revealed and the main conflict played out. Again, I wanted more from her characters and the storyline then Littlefield was willing to give.

There are multiple sub stories running through out the story that cause confusion at times. I found myself wondering why certain aspects were added as they really didn’t add to the story and faded away without explanation. The action is minimal and very benign for what I expected of a supernatural thriller. At times I was hooked by the story and other times I had to stop myself from slipping through boring scenes. I enjoyed the conflict between Clare’s Nana and her mom. Nana is a very interesting character that made me smile on more than one occasion.

The mystery itself is solid and interesting with injects of suspense and intrigue but the solving of it and resolution of the main conflict was anti climatic. Again, I expected more. More information on the villains. More inclusion of the villains into the main storyline. It’s solved and were done.

As I stated earlier, this is a lightweight paranormal YA. I never quite got over the feeling that I was being “told” a story rather than reliving someone’s story with them. A quick read that I’d save for a put it in my beach and/or rainy day read. The appeal of it is more geared towards a younger YA crowd, in my opinion.

Overall Rating: C-

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  1. says

    I came away liking this a little more than you, but had similar issues with the characterization. I loved Clare and her passions, but I felt like the emotional arcs of the characters and subplots were just started and never really tied together. I didn’t realize this was supposed to connect to her other two YA books – it read great as a standalone, which is something solid it has going for it.

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