Monday, 20 January 2014


A teenaged girl unknowingly causes the death of a loved one and is haunted by guilt. She discovers that she has the ability to read other people’s thoughts, something that labels her as a freak among other kids. She joins a ghost-hunting club (or, as one of the characters in the story explains – “…it’s a paranormal investigation group, there’s a difference”) to make sense of the things she hears in her head, and ends up talking to angels.

Heard it all before, more or less, right?


While this novel by A.S. Santos has the elements of many YA urban fantasy books in the market, it has new elements that sets it apart from the usual teen literature fare. For one thing, it is set in the Philippines.

That’s right. The story takes place here in our very own Philippine Islands, traversing Makati and Manila and specifically, Dela Salle University, making it easier for us Filipinos to visualize the locations, events and situational contexts, and giving foreign readers a glimpse of an ex-pat’s life in the eerie side of our country.

Also, 90% of the major characters are Filipinos, most from the higher social classes, around 5% are American, actually just the mestiza protagonist, Samantha Davidson and her Dad, and the remaining 5% completely out of the human world – angels, demons and ghosts.

Right again. Angels, demons and ghosts. BUT this is not Fallen or Mortal Instruments or Ghost Whisperer. The mythology in the story is, keeping in line with the Filipino setting and characters, also of the local Catholic/Christian persuasion. Guardian angels and Archangels, focusing much on Saint Michael who has a secret regarding Samantha under his wings. Ghosts who walk the earth, the condenados of local folklore, cursed to haunt the places of their demise until their issues are resolved. And the demons who prey on people’s weaknesses to lead them from the path, whispering lies and instigating doubt and evil whenever they can.

I am fighting off the urge to tell you more of how different and scary and inspiring this novel is because that would spoil the story for you. I can only tell you that it is a tale worth reading, for Filipinos and foreigners alike, for Christians and non-believers, for those who want to be scared of sleeping with the light off, or for those seeking answers to questions of faith.

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