Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Publisher: *Not Listed
Cover Artist: Jordan L. Hawk
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.
The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.
Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.
For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.
Immediately, I was included in this story. Hawk is so good at communicating the setting, tone and the personalities of her characters. Within the first few pages, I was smiling at the inventor lingo and the tension due to the initial failures by both Henry the scientist and Vincent the medium. They embodied the very definition of “fits and starts” and I loved it.
There are some great names for some of these characters: Miss Prandle, Mr Gladfield, Bamforth, and they juxtapose so nicely with the very simple first names of some of the main characters, especially Jo and Lizzie.
Oh, Lizzie. The world needs more of you.
Back to the names, it speaks to the fantastic diversity in this here cast of said characters, in every way.
Science vs Medium, that’s the set up here. The “battle” that, of course, really isn’t the truth of it all. It’s so much more than that. It was so much fun to watch all of these people attempting to work together, figure each other out, determine motives, whether to join forces or not. Enter tension and curiosity and excitement.
Hawk is also very good at physical description of both place and her characters. I know this might seem an obvious requirement to writing effective fiction, but many authors find this difficult and are unable to conquer this literary mountain. She invites me into the story with small touches, scents and reactions to them, and imperfections that sharpen color and brighten atmosphere. Essentially, her characters are connected to their environments, not just existing within them.
You know what this story did for me? And this was unexpected. It revived my love of ghost stories! Feeling that adrenaline rush when shadows rustle the curtains in a breezeless room, just like when we were kids and loved telling creepy stories with the flashlights tucked under our chins, grinning with maniacal glee. So much fun!
There were a few spots where the detail did slow things down, getting a bit mired in the “science” or psychic approaches to dealing with spirits and their activities. Each time, though, some unexpected creepiness would snap me right back into the story, me biting my lip in anticipation of I don’t even know what. Awesome.
Henry and Vincent both have personal demons with which they attempting to handle and conquer. Their different pasts cause different interpretations of just how to do that, how to deal with these ghosts, and how to deal with each other. There are some wonderful contradictions that lead to some just as wonderful and definitely unexpected levels of emotion from these characters.
Lizzie, for the short amount of time she is on page and it’s not involved with the tasks at hand, she is impactful and important and just plain kick ass. She’s intelligent, determined, and wants to do so much more than just survive.
Jo is similar in impact but for very different reasons. She fills such a wonderful and specific role and yet there is so much more of her story to be told, as well. I’m very much looking forward to see how she matures and utilizes her obvious talents, both scientifically and personally.
Vincent. And Henry. They have miles and miles of things to work out between the two of them, let alone their individual ghosts, as it were. The back and forth, two steps forward and three steps back dance that they share is thrilling and frustrating and exciting. It feels real and organic and so very far from perfect.
I was able to suss out a couple of aspects of the overall mystery but Hawk did a decent job in keeping me guessing at least a little on them. It was more the individual surprises that kept me gasping repeatedly and joyfully.
The ghostly action scenes, the humor, natural dialogue and tension, the powerful emotion and very human complications all amounted to an exciting reading experience. I hope it does the same for you! 😀
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|