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The Other Ones by Fran Hart,published by Chicken House Books

This has to be one of my favourite Young Adult books of 2022! Heartstopper meets Halloween where a spooky ghost story is intertwined with a gorgeous gay romance. This is THE perfect read for this time of year and has all the Autumnal feels – it’s a proper chunky sweater, pumpkin-spiced latte of a book that wraps you up in a big hug.

From early reviews I knew I loved it before I read it and was counting down the days until my pre-order arrived. To say it was worth the wait was an understatement and I devoured it in one sitting, reading late into the night as it is so fast-paced and I couldn’t bear to tear myself away from the spooky mystery of the hauntings combined with cozy feel-good vibes of Halloween, Bonfire Night…just sheer gorgeousness!

Sal lives in a small village in a notoriously haunted house. He’s used to unwanted attention from people curious about the house and its spirits, so when weird wannabe ghost-hunter Pax turns up on his doorstep one afternoon he’s not best impressed.

Pax has just moved to the village’s graveyard cottage and is due to start in the Sixth form the very same week. His outlandish knitwear and obsession with ghosts is initially irritating to Sal and he avoids him at all costs but after a chance night-time encounter in the graveyard, he then begins to find himself inexplicably drawn to Pax until he can’t seem to stay away. The two boys begin to hang out together at Pax’s house and Sal susses out from his first meeting with Pax’s mum that she thinks they are dating. He casually shrugs this off – he and Pax have become good friends and he realises he is really enjoying his company but that’s it, right…?

Before long, Pax starts hanging out with Sal and football-loving, laddish best mate Dirk at school. They are joined by once popular girl Elsie, now estranged from her former friends and the four borderline outcasts find their new normal with each other.

There are so many special moments in this story which I’ve written about and then deleted as I don’t want to spoil any of them for any of you – I wish I could go back and read this book for the first time! I just loved seeing Sal discovering his true feelings for Pax. It just kind of sneaks up on him and until meeting Pax, he’s never really realised that he could be attracted to another boy.

But as the two grow closer, the true nature of the hauntings is gradually revealed. It’s up to Sal to find the courage to conquer his ghosts, or risk losing Pax for good.

Sal and Pax are such a cute pair and are up there with Nick and Charlie (Heartstopper) and Pete and Cooper (Wranglestone) They say opposites attract and this couldn’t be truer; Sal and Pax are polar opposites but perfect for each other. I’d love to see their relationship develop and strengthen and see Dirk and Elsie’s stories extended – please Fran Hart write more of The Other Ones!

The Other Ones was published by Chicken House Books on 13th October and is available now.

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