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“Horror” is not a genre that, as a rule, I turn to when I seek a good read to entertain me. Still, A. R. Meyering proved to me with Unreal City, why it is that horror tales engage readers as they do. Her writing has a lovely flow, her characters are full, and her imagination knows no bounds. I particularly applaud her for her fine use of less-than-common words (such as, by way of example, gelatinous, ambrosial, miasma, viscous, and opalescence). (It is nice to see younger readers offered a work with a rich vocabulary.)
In Unreal City, Sarah Wilkes suffers the grievous loss of her twin sister, Lea. Thereafter, a strange spirit stalks Sarah, leaving her unable to concentrate on her new college surroundings and events. Sarah must determine if Unreal City, the place to which the spirit takes her, is a dream or a nightmare. Without giving away any good parts, suffice it to say that Unreal City may, in fact, be a bit of both. Accordingly, Sarah is right to fear for Joy, her new friend, a young woman with a giving heart and sacrificial spirit.
Unreal City offers that creepy “hair-raising” feeling on your arms and that unexplainable curiosity that sets upon you when a shadow passes by slowly, unexpectedly. In this read that I would recommend for the mature YA audience, Meyering has personified longing, fear, and even a bit of regret. Along the way, she has articulated an important principle: that sometimes the greatest pain comes because we refuse to let go of that which hurts us the most. With Unreal City, Meyering clearly earned her Literary Classics’ Gold Medal for YA horror!