"I can see ghosts. I can talk to ghosts and, if necessary, I can kick some serious ghost butt."
Susannah 'Suze' Simon, Shadowland/Love You to Death
A Young Adult
series by Meg Cabot
. Suzannah Simon has a problem: she's been able to see and speak to ghosts all her life, something that no one else she has ever encountered can do. This has led to more problems than she can count over the years trying to help out the lost spirits she encounters- including being arrested for breaking and entering, a weird dislike for old houses and just all-around general odd behaviour that no one else can fathom.
Things appear to be looking up somewhat when her mother remarries and they move out to Carmel, California to live with their newly extended family- Andy and his three sons, Suze's new stepbrothers... and a very sexy guy who happens to enjoy hanging out in her bedroom.
Too bad the guy's been dead for a hundred and fifty years.
The series follows Suze throughout her adjustment to her new stepfamily in California, her acquisition of friends and allies, her many conflicts (both with ghosts and the living) and the development of her relationship with Jesse de Silva, the ghost of a twenty-year old man haunting her bedroom- all wrapped up in the Deadpan Snarker
attitude of the teenage protagonist.
Books in this series:
- Shadowland (Released as Love You to Death in the UK)
- Ninth Key (Released as High Stakes in the UK)
- Reunion (Released as Mean Spirits in the UK)
- Darkest Hour (Released as Young Blood in the UK)
- Haunted (Released as Grave Doubts in the UK)
- Twilight (Released as Heaven Sent in the UK)
Tropes in The Mediator include:
- Action Girl: Suze. Justified, since she does train, and for years she's been dealing with uncooperative ghosts that are physically stronger than her, don't tire, heal serious injuries ten times faster than her and are capable of uprooting trees and hurling them at her.
- Affectionate Nickname:
- One of the most prominent is the one that Jesse gives to Suze. Upon first meeting her, he takes to calling Suze querida, to which she snaps for him not to call her stuff in Spanish (she took French). As they grow closer over the course of Shadowland/Love You to Death, she begins to let it slide. Only halfway through the series after the end of the third book, Reunion/Mean Spirits, when she starts to realise that she has feelings for him does she actually bother to look up what it means. It's an endearment that translates to sweetheart or dearest one. It's implied that it was originally designed to be slightly derisive (as in, "I don't think so, sweetheart"), and slowly becomes more genuine as Jesse begins to have feelings for her.
- Suze's mother is the only one permitted to call her 'Susie'.
- An odd inversion. Whilst everyone else calls her by her nickname, Suze, Father Dominic and Jesse insist on calling her Susannah, which seems to be a sign of affection from them both. It is mentioned specifically that Father Dominic never calls her 'Suze' because he thinks it sounds vulgar.
- As time goes by, Suze's nicknames for her stepbrothers become more like this. It's certainly the case for Doc, a.k.a. David, the youngest, who Suze likes the most out of the three.
- Doc also had Red, from his mother for the colour of his hair, as revealed at the end of the The Ninth Key/High Stakes.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Suze's mother has put her in therapy when they live in New York, but Suze can't really confess everything, commenting on more than one occasion that she'd probably be labelled as delusional. Justifiably.
- Averted somewhat with Father Dominic, Suze's principal at Junipero Serra Catholic Academy (most people just call it Mission Academy). Being a mediator as well, he winds up becoming a much-trusted confidant for Suze, often helping her work out her problems the way a therapist might.
- Alliterative Name: Susannah 'Suze' Simon.
- Alpha Bitch / Lovable Alpha Bitch: Zig-zagged with Kelly. There are moments where she can be the typical Alpha Bitch, especially early in Shadowland/Love You to Death, but she's just as human as anyone else and can even have pleasant interactions with more likeable characters. By the end of the series, the diagnosis is that she's a bit of a snob and plenty cutting when it suits her, not to mention obsessed with reputation, but nowhere near the monster you might expect.
- Maria de Silva, on the other hand...
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Averted completely. Whenever anyone witnesses the odd events that occur with supernatural interference, chances are that they'll start believing. Biggest examples are Doc (David), who starts believing after Jesse comes to him and gets him to help Suze where she is trapped under a collapsed section of the Mission Academy's roof, and Cee Cee, after the incident at the house party at the end of Haunted/Grave Doubts- having witnessed events that could not be explained any other way, and seeing Suze talk to someone who wasn't there (Jesse, who Suze had told her about), she is forced to conclude that Jesse is a ghost and Suze can see them. She takes it very well.
- Subverted in Ninth Key when Father Dominic suspects that Red Beaumont is a vampire. Suze is skeptical but Father Dominic points out that they know ghosts exist, what is to stop other supernatural beings from existing? In the end Suze is right though and vampires aren't real and no supernatural beings other than ghosts appear in the series.
- Arranged Marriage: Jesse and Maria de Silva. Their engagement ended very badly. Though he didn't really know her, Jesse was willing to marry her out of honour, until he found out about her secret slave-runner lover, and decided to break it off. Maria, after hearing this, had said lover kill him so that he wouldn't ruin her reputation.
- Asshole Victim:
- The RLS Angels, who hosted the party that resulted in Michael's sister falling into a coma.
- Heather may also qualify.
- Badass Bookworm: Jesse, surprisingly, to the point where he wanted to be a doctor, and actually gets the chance to study for a medical degree at the very end of the final book. Despite having been born and lived over a century and a half ago, Suze points out that he didn't stay stuck in the past, but followed along with every new advance and change, and loves to read. He's actually ingrained enough in the modern setting that Suze finds herself forgetting sometimes that many pop-culture references go right over his head. However, at the same time, not only does he use his considerable telekinetic abilities to help Suze out of a very tight spot, he fights alongside her on multiple occasions, and twice defeats the man who murdered him, both times in a fair fight. Not to mention that he nearly beats Paul into a bloody pulp, who even Suze had trouble getting away from on one occasion.
- Badass Normal: Mediators in general, who aside from being able to see ghosts and Made of Iron have no superhuman powers the way that ghosts do. Averted with shifters like Suze and Paul, who do: they can travel through time, transfer souls, and are implied to have even more additional gifts beyond that of the normal mediator.
- Badass Preacher: Father Dominic. He's very protective of his students, especially Suze, despite being a pacifist and openly distasteful of Suze's general 'kick ass, ask questions later' approach to uncooperative spirits. He ended up getting seriously injured saving one of his students from a heavy falling crucifix in Shadowland/Love You to Death.
- The Beautiful Elite: Somewhat justified- the area and school Suze attends is a prime location, and therefore fairly exclusive to the well-off. Therefore most of the handsome boys Suze ends up meeting who also have wealthy and/or well-connected families have a good reason- most of the families in the area do (or, in Paul's case during the fourth book Darkest Hour/Young Blood, are rich enough to be staying in the luxury hotel for the summer), and it just so happens that they're the good looking ones of her age.
- Jesse really has no excuse though, other than good genes. He was the son of a wealthy rancher- although he does indignantly say that his parents had to "work like slaves to make something of themselves in this country".
- Beta Couple: Cee Cee and Adam, arguably. They spend the entirety of the first five books (about a year and a half) flirting around each other and being firmly established in the friend zone before, at the end of the sixth book Twilight/Heaven Sent, he finally asks her out. When Cee Cee calls Suze about it whilst Adam is still waiting in the Coffee Clutch where he just asked her, Suze yells at her to go back inside and say yes already.
- Betty and Veronica: Suze between Jesse (Betty) and Paul (Veronica). However, as a ghost, Jesse is not exactly a safe choice. In fact, on the surface Paul seems like a safe choice for someone like Suze: he's a mediator, he goes to school with her, he's conventionally attractive, and he makes it clear that he's interested.
- Berserk Button: A few.
- Big Brother Instinct: Sleepy, albeit somewhat inconsistently. Despite believing (or at least strongly suspecting) that Suze is in some sort of gang, it appears that he mentions nothing of it to their parents; similarly, when he finds out she borrowed his keys to sneak out, he tells her that he doesn't think gangs are cool, but whatever she's doing is her business and to put gas in the car (although this played more as a cool big brother moment). However, he rescues Suze at the end of the Shadowland/Love You to Death and tells her off like a parent would, and he's also very protective when Michael Meducci comes along in Reunion/Mean Spirits. He even offers to 'deal' with Paul if he's harassing her in Darkest Hour/Young Blood. After she admits she's not interested in Paul because she likes someone else, he interrogates her about the second person's identity, saying "if I find out you're going out with a gangbanger from the Valley — "
- Blessed with Suck: Suze's initial opinion of being a mediator. Father Dominic has rather different opinions, being Catholic, which is one of the biggest things they clash over.
- Bond One-Liner: "Sorry, but dead's never been my colour." SMASH.
- Brainy Brunette: Jesse, who loves books with a passion, and is a keen intellectual. In life, his dream was to be a doctor, although his circumstances couldn't allow it- his parents couldn't spare him from the ranch to put him through the education he needed.
- Paul, as well, in a devious Magnificent Bastard flavour.
- Suze is pretty sharp too, even if her fiery nature and innate sense of blind protectiveness gets in the way of it sometimes.
- California: Suze and her mother move from New York to Carmel, California at the beginning of the first book. Some of the ghost-related incidents in the book, like the damaged condition of the school, a fallen breezeway and a case of beer crashing to the ground in a convenience store, are blamed on earthquakes. The author also emphasizes the natural beauty and quaintness of Carmel.
- Call Back: A pretty funny one, concerning how when Suze was berating Jesse over agreeing to marry his psychopathic cousin Maria, he tells her to 'stop calling her that'. Thinking he means the word 'skank', she does, and carries on berating him. He corrects her, saying that he meant 'girlfriend', pointing out that she wasn't, and that he barely knew her. And a hundred and fifty years in the past, the exact same exchange occurs- except Jesse is talking about Suze referencing 'the future'.
- Cassandra Truth: The existence of ghosts, and the real explanation of the many incidents Suze gets in trouble for. Generally, she's gotten used to it and just lets people believe that she's a Troubled, but Cute gangbanger.
- Poor Jack Slater, the eight-year old kid that Suze starts babysitting in Darkest Hour/Young Blood, experiences this in spades, especially from his parents. Suze points out that it's mostly his own fault for shooting his mouth off about 'seeing ghosts', since she encountered her first when she was two and quickly figured out that she should keep her mouth shut about it, understanding that only she could see or understand the spectres. Then again, this may be because, like Jack's older brother Paul, Suze is a 'shifter' and not a mediator, and therefore may have greater natural understanding for her gift. Since Jack is adamant about their existence, he suffers quite a bit before Suze shows him the ropes.
- Averted with Suze's stepbrother Doc (David) in the very first book, and her best friend Cee Cee by the end of Darkest Hour/Grave Doubts. After witnessing some things for themselves that simply cannot be explained, they believe in ghosts even after Suze adamantly denies it. Especially touching in Cee Cee's case, who is scientifically minded and had even less evidence than Doc did, but is willing to believe and patiently wait for Suze to tell her the truth in her own time.
- Suze expects to get this reaction, and does, get this when she goes back in time and meets alive!Jesse, and she tries to convince him that she knows him from the future and that he's going to be murdered tonight. Eventually, she resorts to a variation of Something Only They Would Say.
- Character Development: Suze is the most notable example. At the start of the series she's violent, abrasive, determined to a fault, a social outcast and a little inept when it comes to her people skills. However, by the end, she has blossomed exactly as her mother had hoped- whilst still a sarcastic Deadpan Snarker Action Girl, her social skills have improved tenfold and she has gained numerous good friends, has more empathy for people and has truly grown into her own as a person. She's even somewhat accepted her 'gift' at long last, even if she's still exasperated with the trouble and general chaos ghosts can bring to her life.
- Paul, eventually. Having been a Jerkass to Suze for most of the latter half of the series, he eventually seems to accept that she chose Jesse over him and that they were never meant to be, and with this realisation, wants to be friends. In the last few chapters of Twilight/Heaven Sent, he is far nicer and more human, showing a genuine concern for others' well being and willing to reform.
- Chekhov's Gun: The miniature of Jesse that Suze sees in the museum, a total of three times. The first time is when Maria steals it in order to exorcise Jesse. By the end of the book Jack gives it to Suze as an apology, not knowing what else to do with it. Rather than return it, she keeps it, and later uses it to shift back in time to the night before Jesse was killed. And then she uses it in her attempt to convince him that she's from the future. It doesn't work, so she resorts to Something Only They Would Say.
- The offhand comment about the tortoiseshell barrette Suze loses on the first day back at school in Darkest Hour/Grave Doubts. Turns out that Paul picked it up, and has been keeping it ever since just so that he can use it as fake evidence to rub in Jesse's face when he returns it, saying in his presence that Suze left it "in his bed".
- The incredibly brief mention of the belt buckle one of Suze's stepbrothers finds in the attic, which is polished up and sold in a charity auction for the school. Paul buys it for a ridiculous amount of money. Turns out it was from the mid-eighteen hundreds and owned by Felix Diego, used to kill Jesse- it's what Paul uses to shift back to the day Jesse was killed.
- The fact that the Mission was built in the eighteenth century. It's repeated in every book and simply strikes you as typical background information, until Twilight/Heaven Sent when Suze thinks that the only way Paul would be able to travel back in time is to go into her room, since her house and specifically her room, were around when Diego was alive and he was actually in the place. Then she realizes that the Mission existed at that point and Diego was said to have been a devout church-goer, giving Paul a much easier to access place to travel back in time to.
- Class Clown: Adam McTavish. His introduction to Suze takes place outside the principal's office, where his very first lines are as follows:
Adam: [noticing Suze looking at a huge, realistic bronze representation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ] He's supposed to weep tears of blood if any girl graduates from here a virgin.
Suze: [can't help but laugh]
Secretary: [tiredly] Oh, Adam.
Adam: It's true. It happened last year. My sister. [voice drops conspiratorially] She's adopted.
Suze: [laughs again]
Father Dominic: [coming out of his office] Mrs Ackerman, what a pleasure to see you again. And this must be Susannah Simon. Come in, won't you? [noticing Adam] Oh, no, Mr McTavish. Not on the first day of a brand new semester.
Adam: What can I say? The broad hates me.
Father Dominic: Kindly do not refer to Sister Ernestine as a broad.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Heather, from Shadowland/Love You to Death, even before she died. In life, whilst Christmas shopping with her boyfriend, she pointed out an engagement ring and said she wanted it, and he panicked and dumped her. Possibly an honest misunderstanding, but then she starts hounding him and his family constantly. When they refused to reply, she went to their house on New Year's Eve, a gun to her head, and demanded to see him, or she would kill herself. Only they had sent him away with relatives to try and get some respite. So she shoots herself. And in death? She actively tries to kill her ex-boyfriend and the girl she perceives is 'taking her place'. Eventually, Suze straight-up exorcises her- not without some of the mission breezeway collapsing on her for her trouble.
- Consummate Liar: Suze, through years of practice. She's so good that she even manages to lie convincingly to Father Dom, several times, over the course of the series. The only people she consistently has trouble with are her mother (since she's a journalist and used to looking for lies; plus, Suze never feels very good about doing it, since her mom is "a nice lady who really doesn't deserve a biological freak for a daughter") and Jesse, who catches onto it from pretty much day one.
- Father D, too, for a priest. He's very good at covering up the supernatural happenings that go on and getting Suze out of class so that they can have their frequent updates on the spirit world. Presumably, for the same reason as Suze.
- Paul qualifies too, though thanks to the books being told from Suze's point of view- who is both very cynical when it comes to anything he tells her, and who he rarely lies to anyway- we don't get to see it too much.
- Cool Loser: Suze, it seems, though the reasons for the 'loser' half of her statement are more obvious than normal for this trope. Thanks to her dealings with ghosts and the supernatural, she easily comes of as 'weird' and 'jinxed', occasionally talks to walls or to people who aren't present, and has been known to snub the company of more popular girls in favour of people she actually likes. She seems to teeter on the edge between, however, thanks to her good fashion sense, confident attitude and general attractiveness.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Marcus Beaumont in the Ninth Key/High Stakes.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: A few.
- Near the end of the third instalment, Reunion/Mean Spirits, although it's hard to tell just exactly who is doing the stomping at times. It starts out as Suze calling the RLS Angels so that they can get revenge on their killer, and ends with Suze taking them on when she tries to call it off and getting ground into the dust for her trouble- justifiably, since she was outnumbered almost four-to-one, and said four had supernatural powers.
- Suze to the ghost of one Mrs Maria Diego, nee de Silva, Jesse's fiancée. Twice.
- Jesse also takes on Felix Diego, the slave runner who murdered him, with some impressive results.
- Jesse finally snaps and delivers the mother of all beat-downs to Paul Slater after the latter insinuates that he has been sleeping with the girl he loves, Suze for months. The latter ends up with a broken nose and is almost drowned, while the former barely even takes a single blow.
- Damsel in Distress: Averted, but sometimes played straight with Suze. Not because Suze is incapable of protecting herself, but because she has a tendency to take on a bit more than she can handle. Jesse has a knack for stepping in just when Suze needs him. It's implied that he may or may not have a closer sensitivity to her than any other ghost, even her own father. It may or may not be down to the fact that it is implied at the end of Twilight/Heaven Sent that he was a mediator or shifter in life.
- Dashing Hispanic: Jesse. So very... very much. Double points for being at least part Spanish.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most main characters get in on this once in a while. Father Dominic's and Suze's early snarking matches are usually the most fun to read, though Suze usually borders on Snark Knight territory during the earlier arcs.
Father Dominic: [after witnessing Suze punch the ghost of a former student who called her bitch one too many times] Interesting mediation techniques they're teaching out east these days.
- Paul gets in on this as well, and even comments on it as a similarity between himself and Suze.
- The Determinator: Deconstructed with Suze. Her raw determination can be one of her best assets, and a part of the reason she's liked by her friends, especially as it's usually fuelled by a protective instinct and a sense of responsibility. It has, admittedly, helped her to survive in many situations where she could have died. However, on more than one occasion her overconfidence gets her badly hurt, and someone- often Jesse, who warns her that she's taking on too much beforehand- comes to her rescue. Jesse criticises her for this in Haunted/Grave Doubts, reminding her that she's not invulnerable and begging her to accept a little help from the people who care about her. She does improve a little over time, realising when she needs to bring in a little extra help, most notably in Darkest Hour/Young Blood, when Jesse is exorcised and Maria de Silva/Diego is targeting her family, she asks for Father Dom's help in blessing the house in the hopes that, as a devout Catholic, Maria will at least balk at intruding inside the house, giving them time to deal with her.
- Dinner and a Show: With four teenagers and mandatory family dinners every night, dinner is never boring.
- Gets even more interesting in Reunion/Mean Spirits when Suze's best and only friend from New York, Gina, comes to visit for the summer, especially with the two older stepbrothers, Sleepy (Jake) and Dopey (Brad), chasing her for the entire length of the book.
- Disappeared Dad: Suze's father died when she was six, leading her mother to marry Andy ten years later and move to California. Subverted in that though her father is dead, Suze sees him more often than she does when he was alive.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The first thing Suze notices about Jesse's overall apearance is how incomprehensibly gorgeous he is, and despite wanting him to get the hell out of her new room, can't stop herself from wondering whether ghosts can have six-packs or not. It doesn't take long for her to discover that they can.
- Happens yet again after she goes back in time to the day Jesse was killed. Despite the gravity of the situation, she can't help but admire his abs after he has a fight with Paul.
- Dumb Blonde: Neither of the good-looking blondes Suze dates- Bryce Martinson in the first book (Shadowland/Love You to Death) and Tad Beaumont (Ninth Key/High Stakes)- are too smart.
- Dumb Jock: Dopey, a.k.a. Brad.
- Embarrassing First Name: Jesse, as a matter of fact. When Suze asks Doc to dig up some information on the boarding house and its former guests, they discover that his real name is Hector De Silva. 'Jesse' is actually a nickname given to him by his mother, and presumably only used for those close to him.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Played with. The Ackerman's family dog Max retreats anytime Jesse or Suze's father shows up or is about to show up (to the point where he refuses to go in Suze's room at all because of Jesse's constant presence and the supernatural going on there). However, neither of them are evil and after Jesse's accidentally restored to life, Max takes quite a liking to him. Suze, however, utilises this at one point when she's anticipating an attack from a malicious ghost, locking him in the room with her so that he'll alert her if a spirit is about to materialise.
- Suze notes how animals in general can sense when a spirit's near (and interact with them, as proven by Spike, the cat Suze is forced to take in), often noticing when the birds go quiet and when crickets stop chirping, and uses it as a warning that there's a spirit around more than once.
- Faux Affably Evil: Paul. More often than not, he's openly flirting with Suze as they're standing in the creepy empty hallways between worlds, or as he steals money from a dead woman that he doesn't even need because his family is filthy rich, or pleasantly asking Jesse how he feels about being dead and casually making false claims that he slept with Suze, the love of Jesse's life, just to piss him off.
- Possibly a Stepford Smiler variety, though, as it's implied near the end of Twilight/Heaven Sent that he's just as messed up, confused, emotionally damaged and neglected by his parents as his little brother is, and a part of him really did see something of himself in Suze and tried everything he could think of to get close to her. They do become friends in the end, after he accepts that she chose Jesse and she begins to see the other side of him when the façade cracks.
- The Fashionista: Most played straight with Suze, though her fashion choices never seem to jibe with her surroundings. And though she loves outlet shopping, malls tend to give her sensory overload.
- To a more extreme extent with girls such as Kelly Prescott and Debbie Mancuso.
- Maria de Silva too, presumably. She was both rather beautiful and was a lady from a good family who was highly protective of her reputation. It's mentioned at one point that she had about thirty dresses in a time when most women had only about two.
- First Guy Wins: Jesse, the first male Suze meets in Carmel (excluding those of her stepfamily, who she's already met), gets the girl.
- Flirty Stepsiblings: David's apparent one-sided Precocious Crush on Suze.
- First Kiss: Suze gets hers from Tad Beaumont outside her house when he drives her home. It's not particularly spectacular, but it's nice enough and a big milestone, so Suze decided to keep her eyes open to take everything in. Then Jesse shows up playing the jealous boyfriend in the backseat.
Suze: [spots Jesse out of the corner of her eyes and pulls back with a shriek]
Tad: [startled, obviously not able to see Jesse] "What? What's wrong?"
Jesse: [highly amused and casual] "Oh, please don't stop on my account."
- Foreign Cuss Word: Jesse loves this one. He frequently switches to Spanish to avoid cursing in front of a lady, though Suze can usually guess what he's saying from the context. Once or twice he refuses to translate when Suze asks him to, either because there is "no word in English for it" or because he deems it simply too crass to speak in a language that Suze understands.
- Grand Theft Me: Called 'soul transference'. Paul reveals that it's possible for a shifter like him or Suze to yank someone's soul out of their body and replace it with that of a ghost, and goadingly suggests that Suze do it with him and Jesse in order to give the latter another chance at life. Suze is tempted for a moment, but quickly concludes that she couldn't do it- both because it would be too weird to look into Paul's eyes and know that Jesse was looking back out, and because she would essentially be killing Paul (although she says if anyone deserves it, it's Paul)- and Jesse would never allow it, and she wouldn't want to go against his wishes. Paul assumes that her response means that she secretly likes him.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Jesse. However, his English is described as unaccented, presumably thanks to years of practice.
- He generally begins to use more and more modern and English phrases once he meets and warms up to Suze, presumably because she's the first person he's talked to on a regular basis in a good hundred years. He still uses Foreign Cuss Words when frustrated, and consistently calls Suze querida. Until a few books in, she has no idea what it means because she took French- something she often laments in the climax of Twilight/Heaven Sent.
- Green Eyes: Suze, who has some of the qualities expected of the trope: she's both a spitfire and connected to the spirit world.
- Haunted House: Technically Suze's home in Carmel, a former boarding house which Jesse is haunting. According to Suze, most old buildings are this in general, since the longer they've been standing, the more likely it is someone's died there and their soul is still hanging around. Which is why she hates old buildings so much.
- High School
- Hospital Hottie: By the end of Twilight/Heaven Sent, it's pretty clear that Jesse, if his raw talent, passion and sharp intellect is anything to go by, will definitely become one of these once he gets his medical degree and starts practicing.
- I Am Not Pretty: Inverted with Suze, who knows full well that she is attractive. Her status as a social oddity is firmly established as a result of her behavior, not looks. Her various love interests seem to agree, most of them very attracted to her but somewhat thrown by her odd behavior.
- If I Can't Have You: Heather towards Bryce. She first says that if she couldn't have him, she didn't want to live. After she kills herself and remains as a ghost, she decides that if she can't live again to be together with Bryce, then Bryce needs to die.
- In-Series Nickname: Suze refers to her new stepbrothers as Sleepy, Dopey and Doc, to the point where readers (and Suze) can become confused when someone refers to Jake, Brad, or Dave/David. That said, she does make a concerted effort to call 'Doc' by his real name after he helps her uncover exactly who Jesse was and how he died, despite him not seeming to mind it any time she slips up.
- Insistent Terminology: She may not be Catholic, but apparently Suze has enough respect for the religion to automatically correct Jack when he refers to a rosary as a necklace.
- Invisible to Adults: A young Susannah Simon assumed this after she encountered her first ghost when she was two, and her mother had no reaction to it. It's implied that her smart reaction in comparison to another mediator (who shot his mouth off to anyone who would listen, leading to years of therapy and his parents palming him off on various babysitters until Suze taks it upon herself to show him the ropes) is because she is a shifter, and with her additional abilities comes an odd intuition. Averted- when her father died when Suze was six, he explained the whole mediator thing to her.
- I See Dead People: Suze and her fellow mediators. This is lampshaded when Suze meets Jack, who quotes it verbatim when trying to explain that he can see ghosts.
Jack: "Because when I go outside... I see dead people."
Suze: [inwardly, not surprised or perturbed in the slightest] Freakin' crybaby. [outwardly] "So?"
- Ironic Name: Zig-zagged with Suze. 'Susannah' is a Biblical name which can be connected to certain delicate flowers in Hebrew (lily, also rose in modern Hebrew) and Egyptian (lotus). Whilst this can be seen as the direct opposite of her personality, it becomes somewhat less so with her Character Development. In fact, can even be seen as fitting, as the only people who call her 'Susannah' consistently and not by her nickname are the ones most aware of her true vulnerability, and always endeavour to protect her.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Both Suze and Jesse pull this at one point or another.
- Jesse does this first, moving to the Missionary under the belief that Suze will get over him and move on with someone living and have a good life with them.
- Suze pulls a far more poignant and selfless variation of this trope when, even having Jesse tell her that he doesn't want the chance to live again, he wants her, and going back in time and risking a good handful her brain cells in the process to stop Paul from keeping Jesse from being murdered, the moment she sees alive!Jesse she realises that she can't go through it and opts to tell him everything, more than ready to let him live on because she thinks he deserves it, sacrificing her own happiness.
- Paul of all people pulls a mild version of this. Subverted, as he figures out that he was never really in love with Suze in the first place, he just deluded himself into thinking that he was. However, he still gives his blessing to Suze and alive!Jesse in the end regardless, and wants to be friends.
- Jerkass: Paul Slater, so very, very much. He seems to have genuinely improved by the end, when he realises just how much Suze loves Jesse, and simply wants to try being friends.
- Kissing Cousins: Jesse and Maria's Arranged Marriage. Maria goes off on a rant about Jesse not knowing what was due to her as a de Silva, at which point Suze points out that Jesse was also a de Silva.
- Latin Lover: Jesse fits this trope to a T.
- Libation for the Dead: Briefly referenced in the third book, Reunion/Mean Spirits, when Suze talks about superstition and cultures involving ghosts- specifically, sailors leaving glasses of coconut rum for their brethren who had drowned at sea. Subverted in that she states that "it's not just evaporation that makes the glasses empty. Ghosts like a good drink, when they can get it".
- Made of Iron: Mediators, it seems, as a Required Secondary Power, given all of the damage they have to take in their duties. Not including any incidents that have happened before the start of the series (so, within the space of about a year, maybe a little less), Suze has had a roof collapse on her, been almost drowned no less than three times, beaten badly enough to receive two bruised ribs, thrown off a porch roof and into a six-foot deep pit and survived, travelled through time in such a method that is known to be able to destroy brain cells if done one too many times, almost died of smoke inhalation (twice), and jumped from the top of a two-story barn without so much as a bruise to show for it. Father Dominic has been through his fair share of scrapes, too, for that matter, and has always come out okay, which is remarkable given his age. Paul, too, manages to recover from the mother of all beatdowns from Jesse after he takes it one step too far by insinuating that he slept with Suze.
- Magnetic Medium: The entire plot of the books revolves around her (mostly) unwelcome encounters with ghosts. Apparently justified, as the dead seem to have some kind of community where they pass on the names of those who can see them (if comments made by Maria de Silva and Dr Clemmings is anything to go by).
- Manipulative Bastard / Magnificent Bastard: Paul Slater. Pretty much everything he does up until the climax of the last book, Twilight/Heaven Sent spells both of these tropes out in big, bold neon letters.
- Meaningful Name: Suze, especially as she decided to keep her father's surname when her mother remarries. In Shadowland/Love You to Death, after discovering she's a mediator, Father Dominic mentions it's not much of a surprise to him: not only were her 'strange problems and behaviour' a dead giveaway to him, the fact that the surname Simon comes from the Hebrew word meaning intent listener, indicated her 'gift' for hearing- and seeing- something most people don't.
- Zig-zagged with her first name. See Ironic Name.
- 'Jesse' counts too, as a nickname from his mother- it means gift in Hebrew. As the only male heir, he was indeed a gift to his family, being the only one who could carry on the de Silva name.
- Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: One forms between Jesse, Suze, and fellow spirit medium Paul Slater.
- New Transfer Student: Suze, and later Paul. However, over the course of the books, far more people leave Mission Academy than transfer in.
- Noodle Incident: A few of Suze's previous encounters with ghosts, especially considering her general approach, tend to sound like this. They include the time she threw an uncooperative ghost out of her apartment window when he refused to stop haunting the girl's locker room, and another when she was hit in the back with a railroad tie.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Subverted in the case of Suze's three stepbrothers- their names are mentioned, but they're easy to miss, especially due to Suze's first person narration. It gets easier to know who's who when she starts calling them by their real names. The easiest is Doc, who Suze has the most interactions with and even begins to consciously try to refer to him by his real name (David) out of respect after he helps her uncover Jesse's identity and the way he died, although whenever she does slip up he doesn't seem to mind. Sleepy slowly becomes 'Jake' as both his maturity and Suze's regard for him (mostly due to his concern for her) increase; Dopey, however, the one Suze is closest to in age and fights with the most, is hardly ever called Brad.
- Jesse, interestingly, for a while- Jesse is actually a nickname reserved for close friends and family. Doubles with Embarrassing First Name.
- Not So Different: Suze and Father Dom, which is probably why they get along so well despite their differences in age, religious beliefs, and view of the nature of their 'gift'. Both of them are stress smokers, notably stubborn, and despite their difference in approach and attitude (Father Dominic uses words; Suze uses her fists- although, to be fair, she grew up in a New York, where the ghosts were probably more malicious and needed a decent beat-down) they both simply assume that it is their job to help souls reach their final destination.
- Paul Slater tries to pull this with Suze, and has a legitimate point. He points out that both of them are cynical, snarking teens that remain unimpressed with the world around them, are old souls, and most importantly both shifters rather than mediators. For the most part, he's right, even if he was using this as an argument as to why they belong together. However, they differ hugely on the morality of the use of their gifts, despite neither of them having any guidance on it to begin with, which is what ultimately separates them.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Dr Slaski, Paul's grandfather. All of his time travelling did some serious damage to his health, but he reveals to Suze in order to give her a warning "stay away from the shadow world" that he's no drooling idiot, and is actually pretty sharp. He's the one who tells her the rules about time travelling and warns her not to listen to Paul.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Discussed and somewhat lampshaded by Suze right from the beginning.
- They have the appearance of when they were at their most 'alive', their most 'vibrant', which is not always around the time that they died (though it is in the case of Jesse, Suze's father and Jorge, the random gardener at the Pebble Beach Resort). They have a distinctive supernatural glow about them, and by the comments made in Twilight/Heaven Sent about Jesse, they seem to be paler versions of their living selves, and implied to be slightly translucent.
- They're only tangible to mediators, who can see, hear and touch them just like any other living person. Ghosts can interact, however, with the real world and can also occasionally cause 'cold spots' such as at the end of ''Shadowland/Love You to Death' when Doc/Dave describes how Jesse managed to tell him that Suze was in danger.
- It's fully possible for them to be injured by a mediator- a tactic that Suze usually takes, especially early on, thanks to some unpleasant encounters (including one where she was apparently hit in the back with a railroad tie). It's mostly only beneficial as the spirits remember the sensation of pain, and at least hampers them for a little while- their injuries heal very fast.
- They materialise and dematerialise where they want, seemingly instantly. Suze also refers to 'the astral plane' where a lot of spirits seem to congregate, but it may just be a figure of speech.
- They also have some limited Psychic Powers:
- Telekinetic powers that generally get stronger the older that they are (i.e. how much time has passed since they died, since they've had more time to practice) that range from being able to unscrew several heavy bolts, rip the head off a hollow bronze statue, boil water and subconsciously cause things to shake when upset.
- It's also implied that spirits can 'sense' things on the spiritual plane that other people, even mediators, can't. They can apparently sense when a mediator they know is calling them and are able to appear in front of them directly.
- Our Time Travel Is Different: After it's revealed that Suze is not just some ordinary mediator, but a 'shifter' and is therefore able to move through the fourth dimension, she researches a little about time travel, contemplating going back to make sure her father doesn't die (until her father tells her that he's lived his life and is content, and both of them realising how happy her mother is with Andy). She discovers that for it to work, she has to know a ghost who lived during the era, be standing in the place she wants to go back to, have a possession that came from that time, and cannot take anything with her when she goes back. You also get an awful headache after the first time you 'shift', either into the past or the corridor between this world and the next.
- Outnumbered Sibling: Suze, who goes from an only child to having three stepbrothers. Whilst consistently fascinated/disgusted by their antics and habits, she eventually warms to them over time, though she is closest to Doc out of the three right from the off. He is one of the few, and in fact the first person the series who is not a mediator or a ghost that Suze reveals her secret to, even if it is not in so many words.
- Jesse is also an example of this trope, as he is the only boy of seven. From the letters recovered in the back garden when digging the pit for the hot tub in Darkest Hour/Young Blood, it's clear that he adored each and every one his sisters.
- Paranormal Romance: Jesse and Suze, with all the obvious complications.
- Parental Obliviousness: Suze has a fairly easy time lying to her mother, and the latter at times seems to be willfully ignoring Suze's odd behaviour. She tolerates her daughter's dislike of old buildings, conversations with her dead father, frequent injuries, and knack for trouble without looking into it too much.
- Psychic Link: Jesse and Suze seem to have one of these, since Suze is at one point during Ninth Key/High Stakes able to call him without even thinking. It gets even stronger over time, to the point where Suze barely has to think about him and he's there, apparently always looking as confused as hell as to what is so urgent.
- Psycho Ex: Heather and Maria, though Maria is less concerned with Jesse and more concerned with her own family's reputation. The latter is portrayed as especially psychotic as her motivations for murdering her cousin/fiancé were incredibly selfish, and her motivations for murdering an innocent historian were to protect her reputation, which as Suze points out, no one cares about since she's just 'some skank who lived a century and a half ago'.
- Real Men Can Cook: Andy. It's one of the perks that Suze mentions when initially settling into her new life, since she and her mother mainly lived on takeout when the lived in New York.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Father Dominic and Suze are the most obvious, being blue and red respectively; he is generally a lot more level headed and prone to peaceful approaches, whilst Suze acts far more impulsively and resorts to using her fists more often than not.
- Suze and Jesse, interestingly enough, though they have aspects of both. Whilst being the more level headed and arguably the intellectual of the two, he loses his temper far more quickly than Suze- who, whilst reckless, when truly angry slips into a cold Tranquil Fury. They're both as stubborn as the other, however.
- Ret Gone: Paul intended to do this with Jesse in Twilight/Heaven Sent, by going back in time to ensure that he never died and, therefore, making it so that Suze would never meet him. Suze insists that she would feel his absence, and know that something important was missing, even if she never found out what it was. Furthermore, she says that Paul could never replace Jesse, ever.
- Required Secondary Powers: Somewhat invoked. Mediators are really, really hard to kill. Suze frequently mentions that whatever her feelings towards the higher being that gave the mediators their so-called gifts, at least they also made it so that they're tougher than the average human, considering how often they get beaten up by various hostile spectres, who are much stronger than when alive- not to mention their telekinetic powers.
- The Reveal: Hinted at by Paul during the climax of Darkest Hour/Young Blood, Book 4, and finally revealed during the Haunted/Grave Doubts. Turns out that Suze is not, in fact, just an ordinary mediator- she is, like Paul, a "shifter": a mediator that possesses additional gifts beyond the ability to see, hear and feel the dead, and were revered and respected in ancient times. Not only can they remove someone's soul from their body, effectively killing them, and replace it with someone else's, they can travel through the fourth dimension- i.e. time- and into the corridor between worlds. This particular reveal goes a long way towards explaining why Suze is able to call particular ghosts with only a thought, has incredible instincts for her age, and has many ghosts coming to her for help.
- Also: the very last chapter of Twilight/Heaven Sent reveals that Jesse is either a mediator or a shifter.
- Revenge: Michael Meducci's reason for killing the 'RLS Angels'- it was at one of their parties that his underage sister got drunk and nearly drowned in their pool, giving her permanent brain damage.
- Runaway Bride: Except Maria doesn't just run away. She has Jesse killed and his body buried so that people would think he was the one who ran for it.
- Rule of Three: The miniature portrait of Jesse turns up as a Chekhov's Gun a total of three times. Suze also gets three new stepbrothers when her mother remarries.
- Running Gag: Suze took French.note
- Scenic Route: Suze lives close to Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), which runs along the coast of California and is incredibly beautiful. Suze remarks on this often.
- She's Not My Girlfriend: Gender-inverted when Cee Cee assumes that 'Jesse' is a secret boyfriend. He's not, and she says so- but that doesn't mean that Suze doesn't wish he was.
- Sexy Priest: Father Dominic is frequently commented on by Suze to be attractive, even in his sixties.
- Sibling Rivalry: Constant, especially between Suze and Dopey (Brad). Both of them are always trying to gain leverage on one other by threatening to expose the other's secrets. Dopey even threatens to tattle on Suze for sneaking a guy into her room if she tells their parents about his party plans whilst they're away for the weekend.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Suze and Paul regularly engage in this a lot during the fifth book (Haunted/Grave Doubts), mostly because they're both cynics, Suze doesn't trust him as far as she could throw him (with good reason) and Paul knows this damn well and enjoys taking refuge in sarcasm.
- SoCalization: Averted. Suze lives in Northern California, just south of San Francisco.
- Something Only They Would Say: Subversion. When Suze 'shifts' (i.e. time travels) back to Jesse's era and meets the real live him, she has a lot trouble convincing him that she knows him from the future and that he's going to get killed tonight. She's just about to give up when she triumphantly mentions that he told her, in the future, that he had always wanted to be a doctor but knew that his parents couldn't spare the expenses or his labour on the farm for him to go through medical school. Since this is something that he never told anyone else ever, he's forced to be believe her.
- Stalker with a Crush: Jesse can occasionally show shades of this, particularly when she shows up in the backseat as Suze is getting her First Kiss when Tad drops her off in front of her house. Suze even accuses him of it in the first book, Shadowland/Love You to Death, though more to cover up her panic at being caught out than a true accusation. These moments seem justified the majority of the time, however (aside from the incident with Tad; even if it was down to his nineteeth century ideals, most of it is down to him being a Crazy Jealous Guy). Since Suze is forever putting herself in mortal peril, having a guy like Jesse watch out for her- both smart and able to fight alongside her and protect her from danger/hold off an enemy if needed- is crucial to her survival at times.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Jesse to Suze, especially in the first few books, despite his relatively modern views. To be fair, Jesse's somewhat sexist attitude can also be explained by his nineteenth century upbringing- and in addition, he's often right about her taking on too much alone. Suze says at one point that she's working on him.
- Stern Nun: Sister Ernestine.
- The Stoner: Sleepy, according to the Wordof God.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Jesse, of course. He towers over Suze, has dark hair and is incredibly good looking. Even Cee Cee agrees after seeing a portrait of him from back when he was alive. His sarcastic comments often cause him to overlap with Tall, Dark and Snarky, though he enjoys teasing Suze a little too much to fit the full profile.
- Bryce Martinson from Shadowland/Love You to Death qualifies, being six foot and very cute, although he has sandy-blonde hair. Suze describes him as a "true Baldwin".
- Paul. He fits the Snarky aspect, too.
- Teen Genius: Doc (David). Suze often asks him for homework advice, despite him being three grades below her. He seems more than happy to share his endless knowledge, though.
- Tranquil Fury: Often Suze gets to a point where she's no longer making threats or sarcastic vitriolic remarks towards her attacker, but simply snaps and gets unnaturally calm and serene instead. It unnerves even Jesse when it happens, and is often accompanied by an insanely reckless plan and Casual Danger Dialogue.
- Tsundere: Suze shows hints of this for Jesse.
- Unfinished Business: According to Suze, this is the reason most of the ghosts are still hanging around.
- Unnamed Parent: Suze's mom. She's never given a first name, although Father Dominic refers to her as 'Mrs Ackerman' in one of the very first chapters. She may have kept her maiden name for her television news reporter career, and Suze simply wanted to keep her father's name. Word of God says her first name is Helen.
- Unstoppable Rage: Surprisingly, Jesse of all people succumbs to this during the final chapters of Haunted/Grave Doubts, which is odd considering how he is often the more level-headed out of him and Suze. Of course, it was Paul Slater who provoked him. Provoked him by insinuating that he slept with Suze.
- Uptown Girl: Averted with Suze and Paul. Even though Suze is an employee at the resort where Paul and his family are staying, she points out that she's not exactly poor herself.
- Wham Line: "You left it in my bedroom the other day." Ouch.
- "Jesse, my name is Susannah Simon. I'm what's called a mediator. I'm from the future. And I'm here to keep you from being murdered tonight."
- Wicked Stepmother: Gender-inverted and completely averted with Andy Ackerman, Suze's stepfather. He's very nice, and he makes her mother happy- and thanks to also being able to confirm that her father's okay with it, they get along very well. It helps that he's a Supreme Chef.
- Wild Teen Party: Brad decides to hold one whilst his father and stepmother are away during Haunted/Grave Doubts. Suze is blackmailed into staying quiet about it, and when it finally takes place at the end of the book, it predictably gets out of control. However, it should probably be notes that most of the eventual problems and damage is caused by spiritual beings.
- Yandere: Heather, both in life and death. Suze suggests that she was unstable for a while, and that Bryce's breaking up with her was an inevitable trigger that jus happened to make her fixate on him.
- You Can See Me?: Standard reaction from the various ghosts Suze encounters, at least if they're recently deceased or have never encountered a mediator before. As explained via Inner Monologue when Suze first meets Jesse in her new room, her unsympathetic reaction is mostly down to the fact that she gets this a lot. Plus, he's ruined any hope of her having a somewhat normal life in Carmel barely half an hour after stepping off a plane, and she's very jet lagged.