Other Reviewers: Goodreads
This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review. As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.
To be fair, I have loved almost every book I have read by Rhys Ford. There is something about how she describes a scene, a place, or a character that just speaks to me. Some of my past reviews of her books are found here: Black Dog Blues or Dirty Secret.
Tristan Pryce has a history of being thought odd and crazy by his family. Now his family thinks Tristan has gone over the edge and they have called in professionals — ghost hunters!
Wolf Kincaid is a skeptic ghost hunter with a past. He and his team journey to Hoxne Grange in response to Tristan’s family request to prove that the haunting is all in Tristan’s mind. But what both men find is more than ghosts — perhaps a new future.
Wolf is our alpha male. He is passionate in his job and he has the adoration of his family. I loved how Ford describes him:
And if he had a chance, he’d go back in time and kick the shit out of its builders too. At a little over six feet, he should have had more space to walk around in the upper floors’ hallways. Instead, he felt like Alice after she had too many frosted cakes. His elbows hurt from banging into the walls, and the household staff wouldn’t have to dust for cobwebs because Wolf was pretty sure he’d walked through all of the ones in the attic storerooms.
This quote hits perfectly because it describes both Wolf’s physicality but also his humor. One of the best things about Ford’s writing is her sense of humor and Wolf embodies this.
There is a lot of back story for Wolf, mostly revolving around his family. I would write about it here, but I fear that it would hamper his mystery and part of the plot. So just know that his character goes from a work focused man to fully appreciate his family, culture, and need for love.
I actually adore how Wolf describes Tristan:
Hell, Wolf thought, he probably was the one in the case and Tristan was the one setting him free.
Staring up the length of Tristan’s long, slender body, Wolf was caught by the man’s hooded gaze. The duality of Tristan’s soul lay bare on his face, a delicate, pure innocence striated with a weary, tattered wisdom Wolf wanted to patch together with kisses.
Wolf’s description captures Tristan’s character. Tristan is comfortable with the role of caretaker for the manor and the ghosts, as taught by his uncle Mortimer. Now, he hides from life and the living by taking care of the dead. Wolf sees how this affected Tristan’s life and urges for some changes, but not how Tristan’s family might think.
I think this book is about balance. Both men center on only one aspect of their lives, excluding all other things. For Wolf, he focuses on his ghost hunting:
“Like we deal with everything we have so far,” Wolf replied softly. “We go into every job with a clear mind and a need to search for the truth. That can’t change.
While we can agree with Wolf’s statement, he ignores the heart, emphasizing solely on logic. In the meantime, Tristan’s purpose is to carry on uncle Mortimer’s legacy. This perspective has warped the current and his future.
“Plans are fluid, dear.” Meegan whooshed by in another dancing sweep. “Like the universe. One must learn to bend to its flow. It’s better for the soul and spirit. Builds character.”
Both men must learn to move past this narrow focus on their lives and learn to live.
As always, the strongest point of Ford’s writing are her descriptions. Ford is an artist with words, painting a picture that is vivid enough for a movie. There is a scene later on that is so macabre that it reminds me of something out of Stephen King’s The Shinning:
The already dead lay about the fringes of the grand hall, caught in the throes of either their previous demise or the one newly created by their murderer. To the left of them a rotund man wobbled on his bloated stomach, his torso stripped of a shirt. Something was trying to work its way out of his body, stretching the man’s mottled skin along his ribs and distorting the man’s already deformed body. His face was slack, and his tongue lolled back and forth as his body rocked from its parasite’s efforts to break free.
“Shittiest version of a black cat clock I’ve ever seen,” Wolf joked to ease the tension he saw building up in Tristan’s slender body.
In the past series, Ford’s focus was on suspense. One of her hallmarks is an explosive beginning like a Bourne movie intro. This book is no different, but while there is mystery and suspense, Ford captured the creepy horror aspect perfectly! I actually kept interrupting my husband while he watched TV to read quotes from the book. This hardly ever happens when I read any of my romance books.
The other aspect I love about her writing? The humor.
Glass cherries dangled from her lobes, a row of four in each ear, and they chimed when she moved her head. While they matched the printed cherries on her button-up shirt, Wolf thought it looked like she’d lost a fight with a fruit salad.
What could be better?
In all honesty, there is very little that I would change about this book. This section is where I determine if a book is a 4 star or 5. In this case, it screams 5 stars. In Ford’s other series, culture is a focus, especially Asian cultures, and while this gives the novels depth and uniqueness, it began to feel repetitive. With this novel, however Ford takes that skill as educator and we learn a lot of ghost hunting! I am actually interested in knowing if any of the technology descriptions are accurate in how modern ghost hunters operate.
There were too many quotes that I marked for this review, which is a fantastic sign! This is probably my favorite book of Rhys Ford. I have always loved her suspense, but I found not just action, not just sexy love scenes, but a novel of substance. This book allowed me see that Ford has more variety in writing style, and this novel demonstrates her growth. I think that if you liked her other novels, then you will like this no less. So, if you are a fan, get ready to love this book, and if you are new to the author you will certainly love the story.