Found via: Lynn Rutan at Bookends
I like Lynn's warning on this one - clear your schedule because you're not going to want to put this one down. A gripping paranormal mystery, spooky villagers, and romance with just the right amount of danger.
Rayne Peters feels trapped. She lives in a tiny apartment in noisy London with her mom who constantly relies upon her to babysit her little brother. She spends her few free moments with her boyfriend, who is increasingly controlling and pressuring Rayne to have sex. Just as it's all getting to be too much, and with a long summer about to begin, Rayne sees a job posting for a waitressing position in a remote country manor house. When Rayne visits for her interview, she's a little creeped out by the old house and the staff, but its blessedly quiet. She takes the job.
The more time she spends at Morton's Keep, however, the creepier it gets. The manor has a dark history, with periodic outbreaks of sadism and violence, and Rayne can feel a dark and foreboding presence that seems to be increasing. Her one distraction from her work and sense of dread is St. John, a local boy who is so unlike her controlling ex-boyfriend, and his group of friends, all of whom are interested in the dark hidden history of Morton's Keep.
This novel had two huge pluses for me right off the bat: first, Rayne recognizes that her first boyfriend is a total controlling creep and she needs to kick him to the curb. Second, Rayne is bi-racial, making this the first paranormal romance I've read with a non-white protagonist. I don't believe Rayne's ethnicities are ever specifically named, but there are multiple references to her dark skin and she openly identifies as bi-racial, even if she never goes into more detail. Both points we need waaaaaaaaaaaaay more of in YA. I loved St. John as the new boyfriend because he was a perfect example of having a dark and edgy "bad boy" love interest without actually making him into an abusive guy (and a lot of the danger just comes from the reader being genre savvy - at this point most of us have read enough paranormal and horror stories to recognize when someone is acting strangely).
In addition to Rayne and the romance, the atmosphere of this book is palpably creepy. The old manor house filled with ancient trinkets, including a pair of gloves embroidered with tortured human faces and the comb Anne Boleyn wore to her execution, and the surrounding woods are described in chilling detail. If you stay up past midnight finishing this one, you might find that you won't be sleeping any time soon!