Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore – Review

Spirit and Dust

Book Jacket:

Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide.

But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal.

Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic -and Daisy – to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.

You can read an excerpt here.


This book is a madcap, angst-free romp that puts the fun back in I-see-dead-people.

So yes, I know, we’ve all read this story before: teen girl sees ghosts and solves crimes! But what this particular book does so well is nimbly bounce over any and everything remotely close to naval gazing, romantic dreck, or ANGST, and instead Daisy strides onto the page like a teen version of John Wayne, psychic guns a-blazing and snark a-roaring. She then proceeds to Indiana Jones her way through several museums in search of, well (for lack of a better McGuffin), let’s call it an Egyptian version of the Maltese Falcon, with oodles of crypt breaking-and-entering, curse slinging, and mummy mayhem along the way – and of course, let’s not forget the T-Rex. Altogether this book is a frothy genre romp, here to make you smile – Clement-Moore herself compares Spirit and Dust to Leverage, and in terms of sensibility and humor, I totally agree – and it all makes for a merrily entertaining read.

And, at the peril of beating a dead horse, can I just say again how much I ENJOYED the fact that this book was so utterly unconcerned with being Gothic, or broody, or insta-true-love-y, or EMO-tional? It was downright lovely to read a paranormal sans the all-too-usual YA trappings, and to find in Daisy a forthright, competent, funny teen who in her love life crushes hard but does NOT throw her insta-love away. And yes, even with the merry hints Clement-Moore throws out alluding to a potential love triangle (a trope which, for me, has become the Bermuda Triangle of paranormal YA) the romance ended up playing out in a very light-hearted, fun, and I think believable, way. So yes, I would call this book bubbly, but in the best possible sense.

However, I do have one small bone to pick with this book, and that’s with Carson, the love interest. Now as I said above, globally I didn’t mind the romance (Carson is pretty much your standard bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold), and I’m happy to report that there was enough to him to make me believe Daisy’s attraction to him, i.e. it wasn’t just ye old bad-boy classic, where boy treats girl like crap but she falls in love with him anyway (which, for the record, I LOATHE), but there was just something about Carson and Daisy together that…irritated me. I can’t really put my finger on it – and I realize it’s a highly subjective reaction – but Carson just didn’t do it for me, and I often found myself figuratively rolling my eyes while he and Daisy batted their eyelashes at each other. So it might just be me – and on the flip side, I was perfectly happy to root for Mr. FBI – but, there it is…

Oh, and I should probably mention that this book is actually a continuation of the Goodnight clan adventures, which began with Amy’s story, in Texas Gothic – but frankly, I had no idea of that when I picked up this book, so trust me when I tell you Spirit and Dust works perfectly well as a stand alone. And now, having read Texas Gothic, I’m actually really glad I read this book first – let’s just say Spirit and Dust is definitely the wilder sibling.

So in the end, I’ll say it again – this book is just fun, a zany combo of genre flavors pureed to create a concoction uniquely Clement-Moore’s own. And as for me, I will definitely be back for the next Goodnight adventure (in which I very much hope Daisy again stars).

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

This likable, uber-competent heroine’s adventure combines elements of paranormal romance and fast-paced thriller, while Daisy herself resembles a Southern teen version of supernatural PI Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s best-selling adult series. Another smart Goodnight caper.

YAL Book Briefs says:

… it could’ve been ridiculous it really could, but somehow it all worked.  I honestly don’t know how Rosemary does it.  But it did work.