Unraveling Isobel by Eileen CookUnraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

Unraveling Isobel

byEileen Cook

Hardcover | January 3, 2012

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A darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor, from the author of The Eductation of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood.

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She is the author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, and What Would Emma Do? as well as the Fourth Grade Fairy series. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and dogs. Visit ...
Title:Unraveling IsobelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.5 inPublished:January 3, 2012Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442413271

ISBN - 13:9781442413276

Appropriate for ages: 14

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Review posted on Goodreads! Mini review: DNF I have been interested in this book for some time now. I enjoy ghost stories and it sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately it wasn't for me. The writing style is quirky and funny. Isobel was a sensible character with a good head on her shoulders. The story held promise. But Isobel's mother really bothered me. The woman lacks common sense. I have never heard of anybody marrying someone they've only known for 3 months. On top of that her new husbands wife and daughter passed away 7 months ago. Wouldn't that seem a little strange to someone? Oh and Isobel's mother decides to change her personality for her new husband. Her mother really annoys me (even know as I'm currently typing this review). Almost for plot convenience? Anyways it's not for me. Maybe you'll enjoy it more.
Date published: 2017-10-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unraveling Isobel This book had it moments!
Date published: 2014-10-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's an interesting mystery This is one of those stories that you shouldn’t judge by it’s cover. The bright purple background and swirling vines of paint lulled me into thinking that this would be peppy story. But after reading the synopsis and the first few pages we’re plunged into the dismal existence filled with mysteries that is Isobel’s life. After moving to a small island community to live in her new step-father’s run down mansion, Isobel starts life over. Small communities that have known each other since birth tend to not be so accepting of strangers and often treat them as novelties, and it’s even worse when the family your mother married into has a dark history that everyone whispers about and shuns you for. Isobel just wants to get through her last year of school, and be an artist like her father, much to the dismay of her mother. Isobel’s character is a bit of a brat, but I could understand where she was coming from. She was transplanted into a new life, and her new family isn’t exactly giving her a warm welcome (her step brother is a bit of a jerk). I do love that Isobel’s character has such fierce determination in facing any obstacles in her way. She’s great at reasoning things out, and does this with the help of succinct pro/con- like lists that state her goals very clearly for the reader. After Isobel’s first night in the dilapidated mansion, complete with eerie visions and a violent storm she feels like something isn’t quite right, which causes her family’s attitude about her to shift. After this creepy event, I found that her Nate (step-brother) became friendly toward her quite quickly, almost as if he knew something was up. But the character of Nate had a great sense of humour and I loved that he ended up taking on the protective brotherly role even if he still cowered under his father’s shadow. It isn’t until Isobel starts school, and she makes an effort to be friends with the popular kids this time around. Although, they have their own devious agenda when they open her eyes to the secrets of her new family. Isobel starts digging into the past of this little community, and something is getting restless and desperate to get through to Isobel. But with the increasing number of unexplainable things happening to Isobel, and the theories start flying that she may be having mental problems, it makes you wonder if there’s something supernatural, or if it really is in her head. Cook does an amazing job weaving this story, I really did have a difficult time in the beginning discerning if she was crazy, or if it was really happening. The characters of her mother and step-father were crafted in such an excellent way that there were times that they even rationalized me into believing that it was all in my head. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect to it, and the paranormal aspect was so so, they were the usual ghost scare tactics. The ending was a bit predictable, and the whole step-brother attempt at romance - no matter how much it’s stated that they’re not actually related, it’s still WEIRD. There were a lot of historic stories about the town woven into the main plot, and while they were intriguing I felt that they never fully got revealed- we were just teased with it a bit. Overall, it’s an entertaining and quick read, but there’s nothing over the top that blows your mind to make it super memorable.
Date published: 2012-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very funny creepfest! I'm a huge fan of Eileen Cook's books, so I had to get this one when it was released, and it absolutely did not disappoint - it was exactly what I expected from this author and more. You wouldn't think a creepy, gothic ghost story would have room for humor, but UNRAVELING ISOBEL is one very funny creepfest with a dash of sexy guy thrown in for good measure. I think what I liked best about this book is the amazing, witty banter between Isobel and Nathaniel as Isobel works through her new life in a gothic mansion where she is thrown into a new family with a hot stepbrother and a stepfather whose name is, fittingly, Dick. Cook is such a master of the interaction between her leads that I could read just pages and pages of her amazingly snappy dialogue. Another fun book with a lot of laughs and tons of heart from Eileen Cook. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2012-02-12

Read from the Book

Unraveling Isobel Chapter 1 When the minister asked if anyone knew any reason why these two shouldn’t be married, I should have said something. I could think of at least five reasons off the top of my head why my mom shouldn’t have married Richard Wickham.   1. His name is Richard, which is really just a fancy version of Dick. I don’t think anyone should be in a relationship with a Dick. 2. My mom met Richard (Dick) three months ago on the internet. If I wanted to go to a movie with a guy I met on the computer, I would get a lecture about creeps who lurk online. Not to mention, when you can measure your dating history in weeks (twelve!), then you have no business getting married. 3. Dick has a son my age, Nathaniel, who happens to be unbelievably good-looking and is now officially off-limits because we’re related. 4. Just because my mom wanted to be married, I have to go along for the ride. I’m being forced to move my senior year from Seattle to an island where there are more endangered birds than there are people. 5. Dick’s first wife and daughter died seven months ago, and it seems to me he could have given it at least a year before bringing us in as the replacements. I may not be the queen of etiquette, but even I know some things are in bad taste. As the ferry chugged closer to Nairne Island, suddenly I noticed reason number six looming over me. “Well, there she is,” Dick said in a booming voice. He sounded like an actor on a stage waiting for those around him to burst into spontaneous applause at his mere presence. “What do you think of your new home, Isobel?” He gave my back a hearty slap that nearly knocked me to the deck. I looked at my mom for confirmation. I hoped it was a joke, but instead of laughing, she was looking at Dick like a slice of chocolate cheesecake after an extended sugar-free diet. She’d said the house was big and that it had been in Dick’s family since the late 1800s when his family established a town on the island. However, she’d neglected to mention that it wasn’t big; it was huge. Most hotels are smaller than this house. It sat on the top of the tip of the island like a fat brick lady squatting down to get a good look at what was coming in and out of the harbor. The center of the house had a row of large arched windows with a stone terrace in front. The wings on both sides were covered in ivy. Not in a nice Big Ten–campus sort of way, but more like a wild-jungle-vine-gone-rabid kind of way. “What’s that style called? Early Ostentatious?” “Isobel!” my mom said, shooting me the look that meant Boy, are you in for it when we’re alone. Dick gave one of his hearty “yo-ho-ho, I’m Lord of the Manor” laughs. “Now, don’t be mad at her. Seeing Morrigan for the first time can be a bit overwhelming.” My eyebrows went up. “Morrigan? You gave your house a name?” I bet Richard was the kind of guy who names everything, including his car, his favorite golf club, his dick. Dick’s dick. I shuddered. That was the kind of image that could leave some serious emotional scars. “Most estates have names,” Dick said, subtly pointing out that while normal people live in houses, this was an estate. Like I needed a reminder. Our old two-bedroom bungalow would most likely fit in the foyer of this place. “I’m sure Morrigan will feel like home for us in no time,” my mom said. Nathaniel snorted, and the three of us looked at him. My new stepbrother was good-looking, but his mood was a downer. The phrase “turn that frown upside down” didn’t seem to be his personal motto. It wasn’t clear to me if this was part of his personality, or if he was just unhappy with my mom and me as the recent additions to the family. He stood apart from us with his hands jammed into his pockets, and his expression looked like he smelled something nasty. It wasn’t me. I’d had a long shower that morning, and knowing this day wasn’t going to be an easy one, I’d applied enough deodorant to keep an Olympic swimmer dry. There was no reason for him to always try to stand a few steps away from me. At least no reason I could figure out. “What did you mean by that?” his dad asked. Nathaniel shrugged. Dick opened his mouth to say something else, but Nathaniel was already turning away and heading back inside the ferry’s main cabin. My mom put a hand on Dick’s arm and they shared a look, which I could tell meant Kids … what are you going to do? No one will adopt them at this age. I would have snorted too and followed Nathaniel inside except for the fact that apparently he couldn’t stand me. “I should get our things together. We’ll be docking in a few minutes,” Dick said, patting my mom’s ass. I turned around and looked back at the island so I could miss their parting kiss. I knew they would kiss as if he were heading off to war instead of leaving for ten minutes to go get the car. My mom stood next to me after Dick left. Her hands gripped the metal railing as if she planned to vault up and over. Of course, with her wedding ring on she would sink to the bottom of the ocean in record time. The ring Dick gave her is so large it practically requires its own zip code. “You could make this easier,” she said. “So could you.” “We’re not talking about this again. You can’t live with Anita.” My mom had dismissed the perfectly rational idea of me living with my best friend as if I had instead suggested that I live on the streets in an old washing-machine box. “Why not?” I couldn’t help pleading again. “Her mom’s fine with it.” I twisted the ring on my finger and added in a softer voice, “It’s my senior year.” “All the more reason I want you to be with me. You’ll be leaving for college after this.” She tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Honestly, Isobel, you don’t have to act like it’s a prison term. As you keep pointing out, it’s just one year.” I knew it was a lost cause, but I couldn’t help expressing my misery anyway. “If it’s just one year, then maybe you could have waited to marry Sir Dick.” “His name is Richard, and drop the ‘sir’ stuff.” “Are you telling me you don’t notice that he does it? The whole fake British accent thing?” There was no way she could be that oblivious. “Isobel, don’t push it. I know you’re not happy about this, but someday you’ll understand.” “I don’t want to understand later. I want to understand now.” I knew I was pushing it, but I couldn’t stop myself. “Why couldn’t we all live in Seattle for the year?” “Because Richard’s life is here.” I felt my throat tighten. “What about our life?” “In case you didn’t notice, we didn’t have much of a life.” My mom spun and stalked off. I sighed, and it was lost in the wind. The ferry whistle blew as we pulled into the dock. The boat bounced off the giant wooden pylons as it came to rest, and I grabbed the railing to keep my balance. The tide was out in the harbor; the water had peeled back, leaving a graveyard of crushed oyster shells and slick seaweed. Two seagulls were fighting over a piece of some nasty dead bit they had pulled from an oyster shell. The sour smell of dead fish and rotting seaweed washed over me. Home sweet home.

Editorial Reviews

“A fast-moving thrill-ride of a novel.” –The Winnipeg Review