Disclaimer – I was sent a free copy of this book in return for a fair and unbiased review
‘The day I found the first body it was my ten-year work anniversary. I’d gone in that day with a box of doughnuts to celebrate and I was just about to tuck into one when my phone rang.’
Sometimes the dead come back. And sometimes all they want is to hurt you.
When residents on an east London housing estate start dying in gruesome ways, housing manager Ada begins to worry that her past is coming back to haunt her.
Once a powerful medium, able to talk to the dead with amazing ease, she became more comfortable with the afterlife than real life, and with that openness she attracted something dark from the other side. Terrified by the experience she swore she would never communicate with the dead again.
Ten years later at the scene of an apparent suicide, her long closed-down connection to the dead is reopened, and she begins to receive information she shouldn’t know about the victims’ final moments.
Stalked in her dreams and in waking life by an angry male presence, Ada begins to relive the dark days when something from the other side wanted her to end her life.
But as the bodies stack up and the visions intensify, Ada realises that in order to stop more people from dying she has to let the dead back in to find out the truth of what is driving her residents to violent acts – and face up to her own ghosts.
What I thought
The first thing to say is although I read loads of fantasy (urban or otherwise) paranormal is a different genre and something I very rarely read, ghosts and the occult are not my kind of thing so this isn’t a world I only know about tangentially. Reading outside of you normal genre is great and something that I’m still trying to do more of (something that my various reading challenges often force me to do). However when those genres are merged with mystery it becomes more complicated. The reason murder mystery and crime novels are so well loved is because you’re trying to notice the clues and work out who did it. It’s the reveal and the peppering of clues that we all love and remember. In paranormal crime I don’t know the rules and what the clues look like so don’t know where to go looking. There were times that the not knowing made it more suspenseful because I knew that I was missing things so each reveal was a REVEAL. But it’s also annoying because I wasn’t able to ‘play along’ and the reveals felt like they came completely out of left field and with no indicators. Not that they weren’t there but I didn’t know the rules that would have told me if things felt out of place.
As I don’t know much about paranormal I can’t say that the ghosts were done well/badly for the genre. But what I can say is that I personally really liked it and how it’s like having a door in your head but that once you’ve opened it you can never fully shut it again. The ghosts are around and as the story goes on Ada sees more of them but they’re more like shadows on the impact most of them can have on the world. Emphasis on most because the ghost attached to Ada is definitely impacting the world. But even then it can only really get a hold on people who are mentally checked out, i.e. depressed, on drugs etc. If you’re living your life and taking an active part in it (and haven’t opened the door in your head) there isn’t any room for a ghost to slip in.
In a short story every word is important because there isn’t any room for error. All sentences are crafted to perfection to keep the story running at full speed. The story starts with Ada never getting a chance to eat her donut and as a reader neither do we. The pace is insane and there’s no time to stop and catch your breathe. It’s only 114 pages and each one is important. I’m normally one for long epics so I’d forgotten just how fast paced the story has to be but also how much fun it is too. With no driftwood you know that everything is important so you have to pay close attention
As someone who likes London but would never be able to live there, or in any major city, I love how authors give a city life and turn it into its own character. Ada even talks about people like me who couldn’t live in the city because they think its too busy and how their just going to the wrong parts. There’s so much of London that people don’t know or see and that’s the London that Ada lives in, that most people live in. There’s a real sense of London as a living breathing thing and of the quietness of the small churches and back streets.
Why I read it
I was offered a review copy and it sounded interesting. While I enjoy fantasy and magic I don’t tend to read paranormal. Plus short stories are a really good way to expand your reading because even if you don’t enjoy it it doesn’t take that long. At only 114 pages I was able to dip my toe into something new.
This is a really suspenseful read and kept my attention the whole way through. It showed London in a great light and although it’s not my normal genre I really enjoyed it and kept trying to guess what was going on.
Am I glad I read it? Yes
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read again? Probably not but I might read more by this author
Would I recommend? I think so. I don’t know many people in RL who read paranormal and I can’t say that it’s a good example of the genre. But I know I had fun with it and at 114 pages its not a big investment