By Michael Clark
I have said it time and time again: I am a setting guy. I love vivid, sprawling settings in my books. The setting is often my favorite character. Example: The Overlook, Hogwarts. This book checked that box for me in a major way. The twenty-three acre property and house that we are free to romp around and explore are extremely detailed, which makes you feel like you are there. You find out later – this is in the author’s bio so I don’t think it can be considered a spoiler – that Michael grew up in this house. Our setting is inspired by his childhood home, which I guess explains why it was so clear, so detailed, and so vivid. The setting was wonderful.
This is a ghost story mixed with some true crime elements. This is a haunted property story. To be quite honest, this book knocked it out of the park for me. It pulled me in fast and never let go, I was coming off a winter break reading slump, and this book pulled me right out of it. The haunting element of this book is powerful and action packed; you are not left sitting around waiting for our ghost(s) to make their next appearance. The activity is constant, harrowing, and downright frightening at points. There is murder, hatred, revenge, and witchcraft.
The backstory feels really well done. Our characters are likable and I genuinely cared for their wellbeing. Our main character, Tim, has gone through a bad divorce. He runs a construction company and, as kind of his getaway from all of that, he buys this fixer-upper property, and sets out to flip it. His realtor and he pretty quickly get involved. If I had any problem with the book whatsoever, it would have been the love bits. I do not want to mislead – there aren’t any graphic love scenes in this book. The main story line takes place over a couple weeks, and the love bits just felt a bit forced and fast to me. Might just be me, but a man is coming off this hard divorce, being severely haunted in his new home and he is thinking about romance? That might be exactly how it works for some people, but like I said, it felt fast and forced.
There is a part in the middle – when Tim’s two young daughters come to stay with him – that is utterly frightening. Elmer’s story is extremely sad and leaves you absolutely despising our villain. A major element of the book is finding and reading the journals of a previous resident. That all played and flowed really well.
The book leads with a map of the property and house. I personally love that sort of thing. I love flipping back to the visual when stepping into a new part of the setting.
So: wonderful setting, well-written characters, and an extremely frightening plot line. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I am going to take about a week to read some other stuff, and then I am jumping in for book two.
Yeah, there is a sequel. And the way this one ends, oh man, I think we are in for an even crazier ride. If I am right, I am about to see unrestrained vengeance.
Grade: 4.5 Stars
Review by Well Read Beard
Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUiQ0vwhG7c&t=88s
I received a copy from Michael Clark for review consideration.