by Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Page Count: 464
Release Date: April 21, 2015
How got: personal library; bought from Amazon
First attention getter: that cover! and ghosts
From indie horror author and bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn, this brand-new supernatural thriller questions: how far would you go for success, and what would you be capable of if the promise of forever was real?
With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.
Star Rating - 3
The author definitely gains points with the scary factor. She incorporates many aspects popular in the ghost genre with great effect: shadowy figures, voices, poltergeist activity, eerie feelings, and things seen out of the corner of one’s eye. I got chills up my spine and hid my eyes (which while reading a book shows how effective this book was with my imagination!) more than once. His gift with description shows itself vividly here as I could picture each supernatural encounter with spooky accuracy.
The story itself and characters, though didn’t work quite as well. Not to say they were BAD per se, but I saw room for definite improvement.
Reading like a classic horror movie, the book’s overall story was intriguing enough. Cults, mass suicide, murder, supernatural powers, and a father/daughter relationship on the brink all made for a good story. I liked how the author presented the story half in modern times and half in the early ‘80s with Audra’s story, interspersed with police reports, newspaper articles, and paranormal investigative reports. That multi-layering of storyline and plot helped this book a lot, giving it added depth and liveliness.
Yet, as the book got further along, the story started to get predictable and stale. Reading like a classic horror movie got to be less of an asset and more of a millstone around the book’s metaphorical neck. I could predict what was going to happen, who was going to die, and how the ending would roll out long before events actually happened. Not a good thing in a horror novel.
Characters, too, got more and more predictable and irritating as time went on. Jeanie and Lucas started out fresh, two individuals trying to find themselves again after economic hardship and a family life in freefall. Lucas’ grasping at what seemed like a grand opportunity to rebuild his and his family’s life caught my heart and got me into the book.
But once poop started hitting the fan and life started to get weird, both he and Jeanie fell into ruts of behavior. They would react to each supernatural encounter with the same methods and thought patterns, not even c hanging as the ghost stuff escalated in the latter half of the book. They started to fall into the patterns of characters in horror movies; those people that do stupid things when faced with horrific elements and keep on doing it. It’s no wonder that what happened to them in the end did…
The horror ghost elements were done right. They made me jump and gasp in all the right places, enough to give me chills down my spine. The overall plot was good, intricate and detailed. However, as it wore on, it got predictable and stale. The characters fell into that same mold, started out intriguing but never changed throughout the book. The ending I saw coming a mile away, not a good feature for a horror novel. Would I recommend this one to horror fans? Probably not the diehard ones; they’d probably be disappointment. But for the casual horror fan who doesn’t read it often, this might be a good diversion, if only for the ghost elements.