DiscoverMiddle Grade

Zeb's ParaNORMAL Life

By

Worth reading 😎

A young teenage medium must combat the forces of evil to return a disembodied girl to her corporeal form.

Synopsis

14-year-old Zeb hates that he can talk to spirits. He attends Eusapia Palladino Academy, a high school in rural Pennsylvania devoted to helping students develop their medium abilities.

Zeb is different than the other students in that he doesn't just see ghosts, but he can touch them, too!

After Zeb befriends Karen, a spunky girl with a stubborn attitude, he begins to see his powers as a gift.

However, Zeb's friendship with Karen takes a turn for the worse when Zeb discovers Karen may actually be dead. To find out the truth about Karen's past, Zeb will need to face the darkness that's been chasing him.

The line between living and dead is not as clear as it at first might seem. Mixed-race Zebulon Harris inherited his African-American dad’s brown, curly hair and his white mother’s sparkly blue eyes. As a young teenager, he struggles with many of the challenges others face, like keeping his clothes and room clean or talking to girls. Unlike other teens, though, Zeb is a medium, and instead of just being able to see dead people, he can also touch them. Luckily, he lives in a world where the paranormal is common enough to land him in a special school where he can harness and improve his skills.


One day, Zeb is using the bathroom and, to his great surprise, he meets a white, red-haired girl named Karen exiting one of the stalls. It takes him days to realize nobody else can see her and the trademark purple streak in her hair, and Karen soon becomes the subject of a project for one of his least favorite classes. Zeb’s job is to help reunite her spirit with her body, which has been taken by his father, a dark necromancer whose power has overwhelmed him. Together with his mother and dead grandmother, Leona, they work to combat the forces of evil and return Karen to her physical form.


Fast-moving and entertaining, this book is ideally suited to middle-grade readers. While the writing itself lacks maturity in story development and usage, it manages to keep readers interested in learning what will happen next. Colloquial language and short, comfortable sentences comprise the majority of the book, making it accessible even to reluctant readers. Loose references to religion and magic exist in this story, but they do not overwhelm it. A handful of chaste, romantic moments pepper the narrative, but action is the primary focus. While the story itself is entertaining, the book lacks the world-building necessary to make this an immersive tale. Perhaps, in the implied second installment, more detail will be placed on the world itself and Zeb’s place and feelings within it.


Echoes of the Harry Potter series can be felt throughout the book, especially as Zeb learns his own strengths and combats the forces of evil. Young, independent readers with an interest in the paranormal will find this to be a light, entertaining story.


Grades 5-7

Reviewed by

My career has focused on children’s literature, primarily, but I have a love for YA books, too. I began reviewing books in 2015, since which time I have had over 500 published reviews!

I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews like this upon request: https://youtu.be/9MQx-u_NFI8

Synopsis

14-year-old Zeb hates that he can talk to spirits. He attends Eusapia Palladino Academy, a high school in rural Pennsylvania devoted to helping students develop their medium abilities.

Zeb is different than the other students in that he doesn't just see ghosts, but he can touch them, too!

After Zeb befriends Karen, a spunky girl with a stubborn attitude, he begins to see his powers as a gift.

However, Zeb's friendship with Karen takes a turn for the worse when Zeb discovers Karen may actually be dead. To find out the truth about Karen's past, Zeb will need to face the darkness that's been chasing him.

Chapter One

I hated mornings. Ever since I became a freshman at my new school, it had been really hard adjusting. The worst thing was that I had to wake up fifteen minutes earlier than I used to when I was in middle school. I stayed in bed until there were literally only five minutes left to get ready before missing the bus.

Five minutes was just enough time to tame my wild, dark curly hair. You see, now that I was fourteen, and practically a man, my mom started buying me hair gel. Also, I’d started to get some chest hair— well, three, to be exact.

Yesterday, while playing basketball in gym class, I freaked out when this kid on my team elbowed me square in the chest. I was so worried he had yanked one of my chest hairs out. Thankfully, my three boys are still hanging strong.

Being a freshman would be super cool, but I didn’t go to an ordi- nary high school. I was stuck going to a special school in rural Penn- sylvania, called the Eusapia Palladino Academy. This high school was devoted to helping kids develop their psychic abilities. I’m a medium, so I can talk to dead people.

The academy might sound neat at first, but it was overwhelming. Regular high school had to be better. The school was named after some Italian lady born in the eighteen hundreds who (obviously) was a psychic medium. The goal of the school is to give each and every one of its students the confidence and grace with their unique abilities that Eusapia had. She kinda paved the way for mediums to be seen in public.

However, tons of people still didn’t accept us. They thought we were witches who concocted spells. Don’t they understand that, if I could create spells, I’d look like a Greek God, with Superman flying powers? Instead, I just talked to ghosts. That’s my special power: talking.

I only learned about being a medium when I turned thirteen. Your abilities don’t officially develop until your thirteenth birthday. Then you get sent to the academy to learn how to control your abilities. The type of abilities you get depends on your family’s genetics.

Now, just like any high school, the student body of Eusapia Palla- dino Academy was divided into different cliques. The only difference was that ours were based on special abilities, not something stupid like nerds versus jocks.

First, you had your clairs. I liked to call them that because there are a bunch of different types of clairs. I mean, you got your clairaudi- ents, students who can get information by hearing paranormal activity. Next were the clairolfactants, students who can get spiritual informa- tion through smell. I liked to think of them as the hound dogs of the school, being able to sniff out stuff. I didn’t even want to think about what a day of walking in the men’s bathroom was like, with that power of smell.

Then you had your clairgustants; they knew stuff by taste. Clairsen- tients were those students who could read feelings; basically, they were our psychic high school’s version of emo kids.

And last, but not least, were the ever so popular clairvoyants. Those were the students you’d probably heard about the most. They saw things, like those creepy old fortunetellers in movies who have a crystal ball and see the future in it. They’re kind of like that. Kinda.

I can’t forget about the tellies, or telepathic students, as they were formally known. You had to be careful around these kids, ’cause they liked to read your mind when you weren’t aware of them and mess with you. However, if you could get one on your side, you could use them to your advantage. Like big exams...they didn’t have to study, they just read the mind of the genius in the room and got the answers. How do you think I passed Algebra II? But dang, it came at a price. Those tellies charged a lot of lunch money for their services.

The meds, or mediums, like me could channel spirits. Most of my classes were geared toward learning how to communicate with different spirits, so I was stuck with mostly meds in my classes. Some meds are really pretentious, because they think they can dig up dirt on you by talking to your great Uncle Milton or something.

But instead of being able to talk to dead people, I wished I could read people’s minds or move stuff by thinking about it. I’d love to be like the Hulk and just smash down walls with super strength, too. Or save a city by tangling up the bad guys with my web like Spiderman.

In reality, I just got to have my dead relatives tell me they’re watch- ing me, and how I need to behave.

“Zebulon Harris! I’m leaving. You better hurry or you’ll miss the bus!” my mom, Sylvia, yelled from downstairs.

Her voice has become so soft and gentle, as opposed to the strong opinionated voice she used to carry with her. This past year has knocked the stuffing out of our entire family, but especially my mom.

You see, my Grandma Leona—my mom’s mother, for all you really nosy people—died last year. It wasn’t a shock or anything; once she was diagnosed with lung cancer, it didn’t take long. My mom was so angry that my Grandma Leona refused chemo, but I don’t blame her. She always said Earth was just the first chapter, and death was the rest of the story.

Grandma’s a bit biased, of course, given she’s been hearing about how great the other side is from the ghosts she’s helped her whole life.

Yep, you guessed it. She’s a medium, too. Wonderful family trait.

My mom and I don’t have much in common. Not just disagreeing about the ghost thing, but physically, too. My mom is Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes, while my father is African American with brown hair and brown eyes. I’m perfectly a mix between them because I have my dad’s brown curly hair and my mom’s sparkly blue eyes.

“Coming! Love you!” I yelled, stumbling as I attempted to walk and pull up my jeans simultaneously.

“Love you more,” my mom replied as she slammed the front door. I could feel the vibrations, given our old house. The floors and walls were always vibrating, making sneaking around almost impossible.

I found a red shirt crumpled on the floor near my trashcan, beside my bed. I did the old sniff test. I breathed in the red fabric, and the sweet sensation of stale Doritos and peppermint candies filled my nos- trils with a sense of happiness and confusion.

I didn’t remember eating Doritos...not since last Wednesday. Happy that the shirt smelled like my ultimate favorite snack on the planet, I quickly whipped the shirt over my head and grabbed my bag as I ran down the stairs and out the front door.

You ever wake up so late for class you didn’t have time to eat break- fast? Well, I was so late I didn’t have time to pee. As I was walking to the bus stop, I saw the big yellow brick prison on wheels pull up next to me. The doors opened and I regretfully stepped on, wishing I didn’t have to be a medium and endure more of this nonsense. 

About the author

Audra Avery is a southern bound writer from the mountains. Her writings are influenced by her love for all things mysterious, curious, and miraculous. She’s placed in multiple screenwriting contest including: the 2015 Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest and the 2013 Canadian Short Screenplay Contest. view profile

Published on August 26, 2020

Published by Jan-Carol Publishing

50000 words

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account