- Genre: Horror
Kari James’s Native American mom disappeared when Katie was just two days old. In his grief, her father became an alcoholic, leading to a terrible car accident that left him with brain damage. Instead of being cared for by a loving father, Kari was forced to grow up caring for her father, her cousin Debbie and Aunt Sharon helping where they could. Because of this, Kari has always hated and resented her mother.
When Debbie finds an antique bracelet that had belonged to Kari’s mother, Kari touched the bracelet and starts seeing ghosts. The ghost she sees the most is the ghost of her dead mother, which eventually leads her to realize her mother didn’t abandon her but was murdered.
Kari eventually finds the courage to investigate her mother’s murder and allow her spirit to rest.
First of all, this comes with a bit of a trigger warning. There are two examples of abusive relationships here. The author handles these situations expertly and better than any other author I’ve read who’s tackled the subject. I’ve known several people who’ve endured controlling relationships, and things are always way more complicated in real life than they are in fiction. This author gets it right.
The characters in this allure well-developed and realistic. Kari , with her trauma and various addictions, reminds me of a noir detective. Specifically, she reminds me of Sarah Gran’s Claire DeWitt character, and I loved those books.
The only issue I had with this book was the pacing, and ironically, a lot of the pacing problems had to do with Kari’s indecisive nature. In most stories, there is a specific moment early on when the main character chooses to embark on their adventure. Kari has several moments that slowly push her on her way, but it takes a good twenty chapters for her to actually commit. It works for the character, but the first twenty chapters are a bit slow.
Since this is a “horror” novel, I feel like I have to answer the question: did it scare me? The simple answer is no. Written fiction rarely scares me. In fact, Grady Hendrix and Alex North are really the only horror authors who’ve unsettled me, though I admittedly could not get through the first chapter of NOS4A2. This novel even takes a trip to the Stanley Hotel, made famous by Stephen King, and I had to suspend some disbelief for that section.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I’d love a sequel with Kari using her ghost-spotting powers to solve more mysteries. Either way, I’ll be reading this author again.