For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past. (goodreads).
Emerson Cole hasn't really had an easy life. Just before losing both of her parents in a car accident she began to see things. And not just things, but people dressed as if they're recreating scenes from the past. The problem is that Emerson is the only one who can see them - and she can't always tell whether or not they're real. Now living with her older brother Thomas and his fiancée, Dru, Emerson is subjected to the occasional new age spiritualist in an attempt to cure her of her visions. Nothing so far has worked - until he introduces her to Michael from a secretive organisation called Hourglass.
There's a lot that I can't say about this one in fear of giving too much away. I'm an avid proponent of not discussing what I would consider to be Big Moments of the plot in a review, so I apologise on that behalf. That said, I really enjoyed the originality of the story, and I can say that it isn't about ghosts. The aspect that I enjoyed the most is her family: they were very much present in the story and were concerned and involved in much of what was going on as things progressed. While reading I was able to see how much they both cared for Emerson and wanted to help her stop from suffering these apparitions. I loved that Dru wasn't put into the role of the evil stepmom/aunt, and her interactions with Emerson were sweet and thoughtful - ranging from picking out a dress to wear for her nights out to comforting her after a bad day.
Thomas and Dru play an interesting role in the community as they're architects and stagers, and have been renovating old buildings one by one to revive the area. Emerson meets Michael at an opening (of Dru's restaurant) and from there he helps her understand what exactly it is she's seeing and what might be the cause of it. The relationship between the two of them was a curious one that starts out slow and later gets hot (literally!) and intense as she begins to figure out just why Michael can see these visions, too, and what that means for her. From here unravels a fun cast of secondary characters and a plot that I wasn't expecting but hooked me straight until I finished the book.
Hourglass is the first in a series, but to be perfectly honest, it ends on such a note that you could probably read this as a standalone if you prefer. It's an engaging read with interesting characters and a main idea that I haven't before read about in a YA novel, and so found it refreshing.