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 say that I love Rhys Ford’s work is an understatement. I won’t say that I am a fan-girl, but when I get a chance to review one of her books, I jump at it. So, this week I had the opportunity to read Duck Duck Ghost.
If you are interested in reviewing my other posts regarding Ford, then check out this tag.
This is book two in the Hellsinger series. Wolf and Tristan are still trying to learn how to be in a relationship. The results of their exorcism in book one has left Tristan uneasy, so it is time for a road trip. They go to help Wolf’s cousin in her haunted house, gaining more than they expected. What they discover at the farm is even more frightening than at Hoxne Grange. Will they get out of this alive enough to starting living together?
This is a book two in the Hellsinger series, so it is advisable to read book one first. My review of Fish and Ghosts, might be helpful, keep in mind that it could contain spoilers!
In book two, we follow Wolf as he investigates his cousin’s haunted house. But what we learn about Wolf is that behind that confident attitude is a man who has always wanted to get his family’s love back and chasing after a dream that he never can quite attain. There is much more behind this thought, but I think that would spoil a large part of his character development.
What we do learn about Wolf is that he has never been in love with anyone, like Tristan:
Tristan ended up under Wolf’s skin, and part of the argument — most of the argument, if Wolf was really honest — was that he was scared. He was frightened by how quickly Tristan hooked his soul and pulled in Wolf’s heart. He hadn’t been looking for love when he went to debunk Tristan’s ghost-hosting inn, but that’s what he found — and he didn’t want to every let him go.
So we have some serious character development with Wolf, and I find it quite charming how Wolf feels unsteady around Tristan.
I can relate to Tristan. His family doesn’t understand him and he feels isolated because of his gift. It’s easy to appreciate that because of his issues, it’s just simpler to stay hidden away in the estate. But, we humans are social creatures and living with the dead can only help so much:
“That’s not the point,” he said sadly. “I’ve been hiding in that tower, and whether I knew it or not, I grew my hair long enough for you to climb up it and visit me there, but Wolf, I don’t want to stay there. I want to be with you. Out here. And it’s time I kind of embraced the weird I’ve been given.”
So, in a way, I see Tristan as the homeschooled child whose conservative and repressed family background has left him both physically and mentally isolated. His gift makes him even more isolated and he tries to integrate himself back into the “real-world” so that he can be good enough to be with Wolf. Wolf’s “normal” presence allows him the security to stretch his wings.
I don’t want to spoil the plot of the book by discussing the theme too much, but I think that it is important to discuss a bit:
“You sit here in this house waiting for death, and it comes to you. Little bits and drabbles of the dead who share their lives with you. You are living through them, Tristan. Can’t you see that? Mostly everything you know about the world is what you heard from the dead. That’s not healthy, kiddo, Not at all.”
In book one, I wrote about how both men needed to find balance in their lives, both focusing too much on their work. In book two, Ford continues this theme, but delves deeper. These men have focused their lives in certain viewpoints, and finally they both begin to realize that while their life goals might be in the right directions how they were going about it was not healthy or the only way.
Ford’s writing. As I have always written, Ford has this ability to pull us into the book, from the first scene. She gives a vibrant taste of the environment, like a punch to the gut. I am usually hooked from the first paragraph. In Duck Duck Ghost, the first paragraph got me:
It was a foul smell. A blackness to it Wolf would never get used to. With the proximity of the Florida swamp and Atlantic, there was a faint hint of stagnancy as well, with an overlay of brackish algae just for good measure. He couldn’t imagine living in its stink every day. Like cigarette smoke, it would flavor everything he touched, breathe, or ate.
Yes, Ford can write a sexy and hot scene. But what I love more about Ford’s writing is that I would be captivated by the story and the characters even without the sex. So often in M/M (or hell, romance at all), the writer will focus not just on the relationship, but the sexual tension. I think that’s why I have problems with serial romance; when they talk about sex all the time in the first book, what do they have left to develop in the rest of the books?
Yet Ford gives us the happy ending in book one, there are still unresolved conflicts between Wolf and Tristan. Also, because we have a serious new mystery to solve in book two, we are driven to discover what the hell happens.
In addition to this, Ford gives us interesting secondary characters like Aunt Gildy, Sey, and Cin. I hope to god we get a book about Cin some day, he is hot, hot, hot!
What could be better?
Really, nothing. Although, I should warn any reader that we are left with a cliffhanger! Darn that wily author that keeps us panting for more!
This is my favorite series of Ford’s. While I love the others, I almost feel that the cultural focus becomes a crutch that we lean against. In the Hellsinger series, we do have a theme of the paranormal, yet we have a strong mystery that does not revolve around their relationship and we have the development of the relationship. That is one of Ford’s strengths, she build’s series where yes, we get our “HEA” in book one, but everything is not solved. That’s life. While there might be some hot sexual chemistry, we still have to learn to communicate with each other and learn to well, live. This book is about how Wolf and Tristan begin to learn how to refocus their life’s purpose in a more healthy manner and they learn to trust each other. In the meantime, we get some kick-ass horror level BOO intensity that will have you wanting to put the book in the freezer.
This is a great book, and you will not be able to put it down!