Bridget White just wants to be an average girl, but the car accident that killed her sister took away everything normal in Bridget’s life. Now she spends her days talking to unhappy ghosts and helping them move on to the afterlife. But dealing with death on a daily basis is too much for one girl to handle, so when she finds a way to get rid of her supernatural sight, she jumps at the chance.
There’s just one more job standing between her and normal. When a missing local girl turns up as a freshly murdered ghost, Bridget realizes she’s the only one who can find the killer. Worse still, he’s not done killing. Now Bridget may have to sacrifice her only chance at being normal to stop him from taking another innocent life.
Bridget helps the wrongfully dead pass on to the hereafter. It’s not something she wants to do, but if it earns her a shot at a normal life, she’s up for it. In the opening chapter, while she prepares to send off the ghost of a middle aged woman, her sister Val sits irreverently on a headstone and keeps her company. Bridget has researched the woman, and after she’s shown pictures of her children and grandchildren, and the ghost moves along. Bridget has one week left until she can perform a ceremony that will shut off this strange ability. She’s anxious to get rid of it, but she’s also dreading it a little. First she has to let go of Val, who died two years earlier in a car accident.
On the way home, Bridget sees a missing person’s poster for Natalie Fullmer. She gets a very strange feeling when she sees it. The girl’s mother believes she’s run away again and has washed her hands of the mess. Natalie’s totally hot little brother, Michael, is holding out hope, and that brings him and Bridget together. Of course, things get complicated when Natalie attacks Bridget from beyond her shallow grave. Because Natalie doesn’t want Michael to know she’s dead, Bridget has to pretend to be looking for her when she’s actually looking for the killer.
Also in Bridget’s life is an annoying little brother who plays video games at jet engine volume; a divorced mother who works as hard to forget she had an older daughter as she does to put food on the table; and a best friend who is in dire need of a spanking.
Phantom Touch is a young adult paranormal story, told in a very believable teen voice, which focuses more on the complications of Bridget’s personal life than the boy who’s walked into it. That’s right. Even though Bridget has a crush, and it would appear that Michael likes her, too, both kids are too preoccupied with the sisters that are lost to them to start much of a relationship with each other. The two (living) girls in the story have conversations about parents, and concerts, and classmates, making Phantom Touch one of the most realistic teen stories I’ve read in the YA paranormal genre. At the same time, the serial killer arc brings attention to the dangers and the seeming innocent things that can make someone vulnerable to the evil that lurks below the surface of society.
I very much enjoyed seeing how Bridget’s story unfolded. It appears to be a standalone novel, but like the pilot of a television show, the ending left open the possibility of a long-running series. The novel includes some violence and a serial killer that target problem teen girls. I don’t recall coarse language and there are no touchy/feely scenes. She did, however, make me cry, so that has been taken into account in my 5-star rating.
I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.