Reviews - The Other Side: Melinda's Story

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If I tell you the story, will you believe me?”

This gripping quote from the prologue of The Other Side: Melinda’s Story seals the fate of readers. There is no turning back and an urgency sets in to read on – to solve the intriguing mystery that author Starr Gardinier Reina has begun in the space of one page.

Billed as a young adult paranormal story, the book may have the youthful tone of a young adult novel and the protagonist, Melinda James, is a young adult herself. But the book’s appeal goes way beyond one genre. Paranormal fans and mystery/suspense lovers of all ages will be captivated as well.

The prologue opens at the funeral of Melinda’s father. His spirit appears to her, warning of danger for the entire family. Melinda, barely a teenager at the time, seems to be the only one to notice that the deceased is in fact very much around…and this will prove to be her blessing but also her downfall.

The “other side” in the title refers to the term used to describe where our spirits go when they pass away.  Melinda’s belief in her communication with her father’s spirit, however, plus the fact that her mother, brother Kyle and her best friend Beth all end up tragically passing away, puts her under suspicion and lands her in a mental institution named Skyview Haven when she is 14 years old. The actual story picks up in that institution eight years after Melinda was committed there by her aunt and uncle.

Through the years, she has faithfully told the same story to numerous psychiatrists.  She insists that she has indeed been in contact with her father’s spirit and that his death was no accident and her family was murdered.  But this has jeopardized her chances of ever being released from Skyview Haven.  Then, enter Dr. Alex Leever, a new psychiatrist who says he’s open to her story and will reserve judgment until hearing all of it.  Melinda knows that if he believes her, he just may be the one guiding light leading to her release.

However, she is still receiving messages from the other side, and they are now warning her that she, too, is in great danger and that “they”, meaning the killers, are getting closer to her. A new friend named Trent also enters her life and she wants to trust him…but is it wise?

Without giving much more information that could spoil this action-and-thrill-packed read, suffice to say that this suspenseful tale is hard to put down. Whether or not you believe in the spirit world, it’s worth putting aside your prejudices and just going along for the very entertaining ride. People are not as they seem, danger is lurking nearby, we read passages labeled as coming from the “other side” and even if you may figure out who the villains are, it won’t spoil a minute of the fun.

~ Valerie Porter


The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” is one of those rare paranormal thrillers that challenges as it entertains. Starr Reina's wondrous, chilling tale is the best exploration of paranoia and insular terror since Ira Levin's classic “Rosemary’s Baby.” Supremely crafted, masterfully crafted, and elegantly written, “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story”is a white-knuckled journey on the ride to hell.”

~ Jon Land, bestselling author of “Pandora's Temple”


Sometimes, the dead aren’t dead at all and The Other Side holds all the answers we seek.
Melinda has the perfect life: a great dad, wonderful mother, and her brother Kyle who she actually likes. Factor in the best of all best friends in the world and life could not get much better for Melinda. Sadly, it can and will get a whole lot worse and does in this unique, engulfing young adult novel.

After a horrible tragedy takes the life of her father, Melinda feels her world crumbling around her until another person close to her dies and takes the place of her dad…or do they?
Sometimes, when people cross over, they aren’t always gone and soon Melinda begins to see her dead friend and hear the voice of her father who actually DID die; impossible, she knows, but so real she cannot help but tell others. Her trusting way would be her downfall and soon Melinda is seen as an unstable, confused girl and remanded to an insane asylum where she stays for many years; the voices and faces of the dead her only friends. After years of struggling to understand and make others believe her tales, Melinda is given one last chance to earn her freedom from the asylum and from the dead who haunt her every move. The man who can give her this chance is new doctor, Alex Leever, but can he be trusted? Will he believe her story? Will you?

An absolutely engrossing tale of paranormal unlike any ever told. Melinda’s Story is one that will tug and pull at the very fabric of who you are, before weaving and winding its way into your psyche. A brilliantly written, seamlessly woven plot that screams ORIGINALITY and begs to be read again and again!!! Young adult and paranormal fans the world over rejoice…a new voice has arrived and she is not leaving anytime soon! Starr Gardinier Reina has penned a tale so believable, enthralling, and wonderfully special, it deserves its place amongst the very best in its genre…distinctive and vivid, “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” is a MUST READ FOR 2013!

~ CK Webb, Co-Author of“Collecting Innocents”


“Where Starr Reina is a master with murder and mystery, she is both surprising and fantastic with the supernatural! “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” was a page-turner I could not put down. It starts off with a frightening twist at a funeral and will not let you go. When you read this book DO NOT read it alone!”

~ Donald Allen Kirch, author of“Reich”and co-author of“Green Lake”


“Starr Gardinier Reina has created a gripping tale where nothing is as it seems. Reina gives us a brand new twist to consider on how the dead interact with the living... What resides on The Other Side is not to be taken lightly.”

~ Aiden James, bestselling author of“The Judas Chronicles”and“Cades Cove”


Reina captured me from the second I started reading this novel. “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” a YA paranormal is her first in this genre. I have always been a fan of this thriller author, but she has flexed her YA paranormal muscles and has become a force to be reckoned with. Five bright, shining stars for Reina.

~ Terri Ann Armstrong, author of“How to Plant a Body”


“Will you believe my story?”

 Melinda’s question is an easy one, but this book is so filled-to-the-brim with the ‘incredible,’ that it is not an easy question to answer. As readers walk beside Melinda, watching her sit in Skyview Haven—a mental hospital that she was placed in when she was just a child—her story becomes one of complete disbelief!

When Melinda’s father passed away when she was just 13 years of age, she had no idea that what was about to transpire was far more frightening and unbelievable than the actual accident that claimed her father’s life. When Dad begins to speak with Melinda from the ‘Other Side,’ he warns her to leave…to run…to find a way to convince her mother and older brother Kyle that they must hide out ASAP because her father’s death was no accident. A murderer is still on the loose and he wants something that only Melinda may have. Soon, Melinda’s family members and friends begin to disappear, and all she’s left with is a ‘crazy’ story that none of the psychiatrists will believe. In fact, there are some who think that Melinda may just be responsible for the murder and mayhem as she continues to stand by a story that is too odd to be true.

Does the ‘Other Side’ exist? Will Melinda get her new doctor, Alex Leever, to finally believe her so she can be freed from the asylum? As portals open and close and a new friend arrives on the scene to perhaps protect or destroy Melinda’s well-being, she must find a way to understand that the voices speaking are sending a dire warning to her ears—the killers from the past still exist and are beginning to get far too close for comfort.

Readers of the paranormal, supernatural, as well as suspense/mystery lovers everywhere, will be thrilled with this story! But hang on tight, because just when you think you have it all figured out…you don’t! Action-packed with a side of horror, “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” is JUST what the doctor ordered!

~ Amy Lignor, author of“Sapphire Storm: Book 2”


Feeling isolated and misunderstood, teenaged Melinda has a greater problem – she has been institutionalized for telling crazy stories. It all started when she told her family that her father, who was deceased, had communicated a dire message to her about their safety. However, her mother said it was not her father but her best friend who had died.

Reality shifts in and out for Melinda as she doubts her family’s sanity as well as her own. Melinda needs to untangle the truth quickly if she is to confront the danger to her family. This intriguing and captivating mystery ensues as Melinda’s side of the story takes you to the other side.

~ Lynn Purvis-Yund, freelance artist; owner of Deerpath Studio, M.Ed. (Masters in education)


“The Other Side: Melinda’s Story” is a superbly crafted tale of a girl’s traumatic journey from the past to the present in order to discover the truth about her family’s murder. Starr Gardinier Reina takes us deep into Melinda’s troubled mind, sending the reader headlong into a world fraught with danger, secrets, and paranormal activity. With the help of a new psychiatrist, for the first time, Melinda may have discovered a way to unlock the mysteries that have haunted her. Yet the past can be cruel. Shadows cloud her mind as she wanders a dark and lonely path to the truth. But are we ever really alone? Masterfully written, this book will leave you asking that question long after you finish the story.

~ Gary Williams, co-author of“Indisputable Proof” and “Death in the Beginning”


“If I tell you the story, will you believe me?”

So begins “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story,” a haunting tale of family love, life, death, and what lies beyond by Starr Gardinier Reina.

Twenty-two-year-old Melinda James has been in a mental institution for more than eight years, accused of an unspeakable crime: the deaths of her parents and her brother. Since no one she has confided in believes her, Melinda completely shuts herself off from the world, refusing to share her story with anyone, including her psychiatrists. She believes that her family, particularly her father, communicates with her from beyond the grave. And shares secrets with her that are dangerous.

A new psychiatrist, Dr. Alex Leever, is assigned to the troubled girl. He achieves what no other doctor has been able to do—he gains Melinda’s trust. Bit by painful bit, she begins to confide in him, telling more of her story than she has ever shared with anyone else.

But Dr. Leever has a few secrets of his own, which sets him on a collision course with the spirits of Melinda’s dead family. Can the spirits save Melinda from the black cloud of evil hovering over her? And who is the mysterious Trent, sent to protect her?

Yes, Melinda, I definitely believe your story.Starr Gardinier Reina has penned a riveting paranormal which immediately captures readers and gives them a peek into a parallel universe—life on The Other Side.

~ Susan Santangelo, author of “Marriage Can Be Murder”


It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Starr Gardinier Reina. I loved her Ivanovich series, but as good as those books were, she has found her niche with “The Other Side,” a paranormal YA thriller written in first person.

When Melinda’s father dies in a tragic car accident, he comes back from the dead to tell her he was murdered and that she, her mother, and her brother need to run because they are in danger.

They can’t run fast enough and soon both her mother and brother are killed by the same people. When she tries to tell the authorities the truth, they think she is crazy and lock her up in an insane asylum.

We rejoin her story eight years later. She is now twenty-two-years-old with no hope of ever leaving Skyview Haven. The story unfolds as she is telling her story to the one person, Dr. Alex Leever, a psychiatrist, who holds the key to her future. If he believes her story, she will be allowed to leave. If he doesn’t, she will spend the rest of her life at Skyview.

Everything and everyone are not what they seem. The only truth is the one in your head. We follow Melinda as she tells her story and as her family tries to help her from the ‘other side.’
Starr Gardinier Reina has woven a tapestry of emotion and suspense while making the reader believe that our loved ones, although they may be gone, are still trying to protect us.

“The Other Side” may be listed as a YA novel, but it is a story that will have readers of all ages wanting more.

~ J.M. LeDuc, Author of“Cursed Days”