Review of ‘The Haunting of the Antique Brooch’ by Hina Ansari
This is so not the cozy young adult mystery I was expecting. It’s bona fide YA horror debut novel, complete with ghosts, demons, djinns, and a gorgeous and mysterious girl.
Sixteen-year-old Roni and her friend Matty thought investigating haunted houses would be a fun activity for the summer until Roni unknowingly upsets “something”. The trouble follows her home, putting everyone around her in danger.
I’m not a huge fan of horror so I probably wouldn’t have read this book if I had been more careful. I’m really glad I wasn’t, it was an interesting experience and a really good book. The atmosphere was terrifying, the darkness soul-sucking, and much more enjoyable than I thought it could be. A lot of my enjoyment of this book came from Roni’s character. As the youngest in her family, she’s always felt like an afterthought. Growing up in a progressive Chicago suburb, she’s very respectful of her family’s Indian Muslim culture and at the same time trying to fit in. She’s brave and stubborn and driven. She’s surrounded by all sorts of people. Her best friend Matty is transgender and his family comes from Thailand. The ghost experts they ask for help are a perfect mix of minorities. One girl has Down’s syndrome. And Roni, hitherto used to swooning over pretty boys, finds herself crushing hard on a girl.
At times this book could read like a diversity catalogue yet it never feels forced.
It wouldn’t be utterly far-fetched to read this as a metaphor of teenage years, trying to find yourself, find your place in a world that is not ready for you and for who you are. Or simply enjoy it without looking for hidden meaning…