Review: My Soul to Keep by Jackie Sonnenberg


My Soul to Keep by Jackie Sonnenberg

Published May 2016 by Limitless Publishing


What it’s about:

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take… When thirteen-year-old Sky Monroe arrives at her new boarding school, all she can think about is death and connecting with the afterlife. Soon she discovers her school’s spirituality group called Guardians of Light-and they have a secret. The Guardians of Light can speak with the dead… When Mitchell Brooks, the teacher and leader of the group, reveals this unnerving secret to Sky-though this is exactly what she believed she wanted-she learns the organization is rapidly becoming a cult. Now she’s concerned she and her friend Damien will not be permitted to walk away. Danger and death lurk around every corner… The campus house, where Sky resides, is haunted, and the spirits have their own agenda. December 21, 2012 threatens the end of the world, and Mitchell and the spirits have special plans in store. They just might bring Sky closer to the afterlife-and possibly beyond-than she ever imagined. Sky is looking for a connection to the afterlife, but what she finds may be more than she bargained for…because what lies after life is death.

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 3.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆ from Frannie

My Soul to Keep is a story about Skyler Monroe, a teenage girl who loses her father in a gang related, senseless murder and has a difficult time grieving with his loss. She is sent away to a boarding school called Applewhite Prep, and upon her arrival at the prestigious prep school, she finds herself an outcast, unable to fit in with her classmates. She comes across a group of kids called the Guardians of the Light, who through meditation and other self-awareness exercises, are able to have out-of-body experiences. This clique is unusual, but the group allows her to feel safe until the supernatural becomes more than a spiritual experience. The author does a good job describing the paranormal encounters and out-of-body experiences. However, the characters lack depth and therefore don’t draw any compassion from readers. They are not fully developed, and many of the incidents are left hanging without being tied back into the story. The book is a fun read, but it is predictable and lacks suspense.


☆☆➹⁀☆ 2.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆ from Jennie

3-year-old Sky Munroe enrolls at a boarding school after grieving the death of her father.  Already a sensitive girl, tuned in to the paranormal, Sky gets wrapped up in a student group that emphasizes connection with a spirit called White Light. Here, amongst other sensitive souls, Sky feels at home. However, the group turns from welcoming to sinister and cultish and Sky has to decide if she’s strong enough to get out.
I found plenty to like about this spooky story. Sonnenberg does a good job at pacing the plot, and the story gets progressively creepier – alongside Sky, the reader realizes the danger once it’s too late to turn back.  Sky is a sympathetic character and easy to root for, as is her friend Damien. These are good kids who want to belong. I felt invested in the story and Sky, and interested in seeing how it would all resolve; the denouement was effective and felt authentic.
What I struggled with is what I find challenging about many self-published authors: the actual craft of writing is weak at points.  Dialogue doesn’t flow, descriptions are full where they don’t need to be and scant where some details might be nice.  Every now and then I imagined Sky and the characters as college age, not junior high and high school, because their thinking and communication was mature beyond the average teen.
My one real complaint is the use of disability imposed as punishment, while simultaneously presenting the characters with them as inspiring.  As a proponent of disability as one part of the range of human experience, I found myself cringing at this forced association of disability as punishment for unbelief.  It’s also the worst cliche that people with disabilities are somehow stronger or more inspiring than people without. I’m not sure what else the author could have used to make the point, but it made me deeply uncomfortable.
Enjoy this read as we shift into Autumn and closer to Halloween. I’d be interested in reading more ghost stories from this author.
About the author:  Jackie Sonnenberg is an author living in Orlando, Florida with a background in journalism and creative writing. She wrote for local newspapers in both print and online before publishing her first book. She wrote and published three requested reference titles under Atlantic Publishing on business, housing, and pet care. She indie published her first novel ALL THAT GLITTERS before diving into the right genre for her.

Now able to focus on her true calling to the dark side (don’t blame me, they had cookies!) Jackie is outlining the YA Horror series YRESRUN SEMYHR which is a sinister re-telling of the classic Nursery Rhymes.

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