Desert Isle Keeper
The Burning Island
The Burning Island is Hester Young’s third novel featuring Charlotte (Charlie) Cates, a journalist with an extremely rare psychic ability that allows her to see missing or deceased children in her dreams. This is a book that could be read as a standalone, but readers will have a much clearer understanding of Charlie’s life circumstances if they start at the beginning of the series with The Gates of Evangeline.
The Burning Island picks up three years after the end of book two, The Shimmering Road. Charlie is living in Arizona with her fiancé Noah and their two young daughters, working for an outdoor-themed magazine and helping to find missing children on the side. She does everything she can to keep her paranormal gift hidden from the world, but when she locates a twelve-year-old boy who got lost in the desert, she finds it impossible to continue masking the truth. Up until now, she’s been able to come up with reasons to explain how she knows the mysterious things she knows, but the questions the police are asking about this latest child force her to finally come clean about her abilities.
Charlie becomes an overnight media sensation, something that doesn’t please her at all. She wants to be viewed as a reliable journalist, and she’s sure the media attention will harm her credibility. Desperate to get away from the public scrutiny, Charlie heads off to Hawaii for a much-needed vacation with her best friend, leaving Noah and the girls behind. She plans to interview a famous scientist for the magazine she works for, but most of her time will be spent soaking up the sun of this tropical paradise.
Unfortunately for Charlie, the island getaway she’s craving proves to be anything but relaxing. A sixteen-year-old girl has been missing for the past six weeks, and she just happens to be the daughter of Victor, the man Charlie needs to interview. Most people think Liza has run away from her strict parents, but a few of the locals aren’t convinced. At first, Charlie is determined to steer clear of the investigation into Liza’s disappearance, but when she catches a glimpse of the girl in a dream, she knows she can’t ignore what’s going on.
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but I think The Burning Island is my favorite of the three. I absolutely loved the Hawaiian setting, and Ms. Young is one of those writers who can pull me out of my everyday life and straight into the world she has created. I flew through this book, finishing it in less than a day, and now that it’s over, I find myself tempted to go back and revisit the earlier installments in the series just so I can spend more time with Charlie.
I’m not usually a fan of books with ghosts in them, so this, with its heroine who sometimes communicates with the spirits of dead children might seem like an odd reading choice for me, but the ghostly characters didn’t bother me at all. There’s something about the way the author deals with the dead that makes it really easy for me to suspend my disbelief and my general dislike of ghosts and fall completely in love with the story.
I’m usually pretty good at figuring mysteries out long before the author intends me to, but this one kept me guessing almost until the very end. I thought I might have figured it out a couple of times earlier on, but that turned out not to be the case. Now that I know who was ultimately responsible for what happened to Liza, I can see the clues the author laid out for me, but I didn’t take notice of them while I was actually reading the book.
Charlie is one of those characters who continues to grow as the series progresses. She has to make some tough decisions here, and I did wonder if she would be strong enough to do the right thing, but she did not disappoint me. She struggles with some really intense questions about her place in the world, questions I think many of us can identify with on some level.
If you’re looking for a fun yet thrilling book to curl up with this winter, I highly recommend The Burning Island. It’s sure to appeal to fans of complex mysteries and also those readers who are interested in the paranormal. It really is one of the best things I’ve read so far this year.