Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body.
This fast-paced and exciting episode is the first instalment in an ongoing mystery series with a supernatural twist.
Borrowing Abby Grace has been described as "a supernatural teenage Nancy Drew", and this is a very accurate description! In each episode Abby is dropped into a new body and left to work out her surroundings and try to fix the problems in that person's life. I don't think I have ever read a paranormal detective story before, so this was a very unique and interesting concept for me.
The mysteries in each book are very cleverly set up, and the different clues are constantly switching suspicion onto someone else or throwing Abby onto a different track altogether. In each book I had no inkling about how to solve the mystery or who was involved, and so each reveal was a big surprise and very cleverly crafted together. All these books are fast-moving, action-packed and grip you from the first sentence. They are a lot of fun to read and always very surprising.
Abby is a very intelligent and sassy girl, and I connected with her straight away, but she has no memories at all of her past. In each book she finds herself thrust into a new body, and a difficult situation and is left to adapt to each new circumstance. Abby is told that she is a Shadow, someone who is sent into people's lives because they have a desperate problem, and she has to solve it.
The only person who can tell Abby anything about what is happening to her is Will, who is a Guardian- the only one who knows exactly what Abby is, and who pops in and out giving her cryptic advice and snippets of not-quite-enough information to help her on her missions. Will is one of the most annoying characters ever written, as no-one else can see him, so he takes enormous pleasure in distracting Abby while she is talking to other people, or goading her into snapping at him so it looks like she is talking to herself. One time at a party he sneaks up behind her and asks her to pass him a beer, but as he is just out her eyeline she doesn't realise that it is him and she drops it through him onto the floor, making her look stupid. He also manages to always be cryptic, and sly, but still be very lovable, and someone who obviously cares and is interested in keeping Abby safe. So although he is very frustrating he is is still someone that I really loved reading about, and wanted to see more of.
Will can also tell her nothing about her real life except her real name, but Abby doesn't know if she is still alive somewhere or dead, or ever really existed. Her former life is a blank and a complete mystery to her. However, as the series progresses she gradually "earns" memories of her former life as Abby Grace, and we see snippets of a real girl, and clues as to who she used to be. There are still so many unanswered questions in the series- like who Abby is/was, if she is dead and this is her new existence, or if she is still alive and can go back to that life, if she is being punished, where does she go next, and also, who Will really is/was. I love the situations that Abby finds herself in, and the weird background behind each new person. Abby becomes good at finding the clues and piecing together the mysteries, but I'm itching now to find out more about her own mystery- who is she and can she get back to that?
My favourite episode was definitely book 3- Top of the Class, where Abby wakes up as a guy for the first time, and her attempts to act like a boy had me giggling out loud in so many places. I also felt that the plotline was much better crafted in this book, the whole mystery/ detective element of the story was very brilliantly done and really did surprise me with it's resolution.
The best thing about these books is the detective aspect that Abby seems to revel in. She manages to notice every little detail, and to come to conclusions that would have completely escaped me, and I loved the different mysteries and their unravelling in each episode. They take you on twists and turns and then shock you with the last thing you would expect. Abby is smart and has a wicked sense of humour and a confidence and courage that is really great to read. Borrowing Abby Grace is great fun, and a very clever series that I would recommend to fans of a great story.
These really are bite-sized little gems of books. They are not very long at all and I easily read each one in one sitting, but they still feel like they have a lot packed into them. They get better and better with each episode and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Episode 1- The Shadow
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
When Abby Grace wakes up in the back of a van, she has no idea who she is, how she got there, or why anyone would want to kidnap her. After escaping her masked captors, she hurries home, only to discover that she unknowingly left her younger brother behind in the van. Unable to answer the police’s questions with her memories gone, she retreats to the safety of her bedroom where she tries to reconstruct her life. Just as she is settling into the belief that things will one day return to normal, she looks in the mirror—and sees a stranger’s face.
As Abby learns next, she has become a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. With nothing to go on except the vague hints of her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will, Abby sets out to rescue the missing brother. But she will need all of her intelligence, fearlessness, and wit, because if she fails to find him in time, she will remain trapped in this unfamiliar body forever.
Episode 2- Girl Steals Guy
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
As Abby has learned, she is now a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. Dropped into the life of a gorgeous senior with a heartbroken best friend, Abby is instructed to “reunite the lovers” by her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will. Now Abby must navigate high school keg parties, football games and power couples, only to discover that love and revenge are sometimes the same thing.
Episode 3- Top of the Class
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
Abby finds herself in a boy’s body for the first time, where she has to fumble her way through a secret love affair, while getting to the bottom of a grade-tampering scandal that could send her to jail.
Review copies provided from the author- with thanks
I had never heard of Backlight fiction before being approached to review one of their books. They describe themselves as a new publisher of quality ebooks... According to their website
[quote-"Backlit is a next-generation digital media publishing company that creates eBooks and interactive apps based on original franchises. As a new eBook publisher, Backlit: Fiction Forward ("BFF") incubates teen serials as episodic apps and film and television properties".]I was so curious about how each book (described as episodes) would read. Would they read like a screenplay, or were they still traditional novels? They are still written like normal novels, but are actually very visual, and you can definitely picture each one on the screen, like an episode of a TV series, but this makes them very vivid, rather than taking anything away. I think these books would adapt fantastically into a TV series. These are very short books that you can easily read in one sitting, but still with so much story and characterisation in them.
These books are currently only available as ebooks. Buy from Amazon.