Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer


Every ghost has a story to tell.

The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.

Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.


The Short Version:
A ghost story mixed with a realistic contemporary setting and an intricate weaving of two different time periods makes Through Her Eyes a very haunting and beautiful read. Tansy is a character many will relate to, an outsider as a product of her constant moving but still someone who wants to make connections with others. The small town Texas setting plays a large role in the book, and the overall story line is very well thought out and in depth. Rapt with deeper nuances and meaning, and rich in character motivation and development, Through Her Eyes does a remarkable job of blending the paranormal with the realistic.

The Extended Version:
Tansy is an interesting character, frustrated with her mother for how often they move and intensely loyal to her declining grandfather. Her fierce love for him is refreshing in nature, and speaks volumes of her character. This angle adds another source of tension with her mother, twisting both the reader’s and Tansy’s feelings regarding the entire situation. Tansy is a mixture of good and bad qualities, a bit of a leper at school while still holding her own personal reservations about the usual school outcasts. Despite her initial reactions, Bethyl Anne proves to be a great friend for Tansy and a fantastic addition to the story overall.

Bethyl Anne is a unique character, two years younger than her classmates but incredibly intelligent and jumped two grades because of it. From her appearance to her brains to her looks, she has all the typical makings as a target and an outcast, but she finds a way to push it off. Her habit of spouting off Shakespeare in response to almost any situation is amusing and endearing, and her overall role in the book is very well done.

Tate seems like the stereotypical jock, but he has much deeper qualities, and his own development comes in surprising ways. He has piercing eyes and is downright hot, but he’s got his own bits of torment and disappointment. He, too, plays a surprising role in the book, with some unexpected reveals related to him happening at just the right times. His reasons for things are explained in due course, and overall, Tate is both swoonworthy and likable.

The plot itself is well thought out, filled with little things that mean something more and tie ins that are unexpected or forgotten until they are revealed at the perfect moment. The way the entire potential possession aspect plays out is fantastically well written, smooth to read, and easy to understand in nature and reason. Henry, the boy who lived in Tansy’s house decades before and who is thought to have killed himself, plays a strong role as well, and he is developed in a beautiful way. The mixing of his time and Tansy’s is a beautiful aspect of this book, merging the two in surprising ways and throwing several unexpected twists along the way.

There is an overall sense of isolation and solitude in this book, which does rebound to make things seem slow. While Tansy does interact with people in the town here and there, and her mother, it isn’t until about halfway through her social type interactions really start picking up. Before that, it is heavy on internal monologue, centered around Tansy adjusting to the new house and town, mixed in with the legends surrounding the previous owners and the strange happenings that start almost immediately. Given how strongly characters play in my liking of a book, I enjoyed this aspect but I can see it being a sticky angle for some. Regardless, the story as a whole is well worth it to push past this sense of loneliness, written in a way that can even pull the reader in to the feeling.

With well developed characters- both central and secondary, in the present day, and from the past- and a strong premise twisted to something Archer can easily call her own, Through Her Eyes really mixes things up in a fantastic way. The setting is spot on, mirroring life in a small Texas town through the eyes of an outsider, and is built in a smooth manner without being overbearing. Archer’s writing is strong, showing her ability, without being overbearing or pressing, and lulls the reader into the story easily.

Source: ARC Received from author in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 384 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 5, 2011


  1. It looks really good. I'll have to check it out. I love the cover.

  2. Fantastic review, Kari. It's very well-written and thought out too.

    I read this one about a week or so ago and I agree with you. The possession aspect is very well done, but I can see it being a bit too slow for some readers. I love more character-driven stories, so this one worked very well for me.