THE WEIGHT OF SOULS by Bryony Pearce,Â Strange Chemistry Â£7.99 p/b, Website
Reviewed by Glen Mehn
In present-day London sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: when murdered ghosts die, they paint her with a black mark which she can only get rid of by transferring to another person. Ideally, this is the murderer, but it could be anyone. So she wears a glove. The glove and her adventures cause her problems at school â€“ GCSEs are coming up, and she’s failing; with her father, who thinks she’s sick with a genetic disorder and is determined to fix it; and with her few remaining friends, who she can’t afford to confess to.
One of the cool kids at school dies and gives her a Mark, but refuses to tell her who the killers are â€“ insists, in fact, that he’s died accidentally. Eventually. They’ve tormented each other. The problem is, the Darkness will come for Taylor unless she gives the Mark to someone else.
This is a good set-up for a book, and it’s set up for a sequel where there’s a much more deep intrigue, full of Egyptian magic and something approaching the fate of the world. The story is good, and solid, though the pacing sometimes can be a bit off. There are a few places where I wanted to cry foul: one of the main characters â€“ admittedly, a horrible person â€“ refers to our Asian character using ugly racial slurs. Fine, but it didn’t tell us anything about that character that we didn’t know. Taylor herself refers to herself as “Oriental”, something no Asian woman I know would do, and makes some other strange racial references to herself.
The self-indulgent Kensington teenagers, on the other hand, are refreshingly just as horrible as you might expect: they participate in a junior Bullingdon club and are nasty to each other, and especially to those outside.
The book isn’t perfect, but it’s a good effort from a writer to watch.