Publication date: October 9, 2012
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When the “Ghost Trackers” heroes Trevor, Drew, and Amber head out to America’s Most Haunted Town in order to give a presentation at their local “Dead Days” convention, they don’t expect to be caught up in the middle of another paranormal murder mystery. Things start turning weird with inexplicable killings, unexpected appearances of former acquaintances, and the shimmery, half-there vision of the town’s infamous Dark Lady.
Fans of TV’s “Ghost Hunters”-turned-authors likely be pleased that this book featured quite a bit more actual “Ghost Hunting” than the first book. We also get a bit of a glimpse into what it’s like to ghost hunt within the popular media as the characters take part in the convention, promote their book, and tag along with a camera crew documenting the events in small-town Exetor. Though some of the additional characters that are added in are a bit cliche (psycho ex-boyfriend, pompous TV star, etc), the main characters gain more depth and Amber actually gets a backbone and some usefulness on the team as she develops her psychic abilities. It wasn’t as graphically gory as the first book, despite the fact that there are more deaths; many of the deaths are implied or only described at a surface level. I also liked that there were fewer dream and hallucination sequences, which made it easier to follow along with than the first book, and made it a more cohesive read.
This book did, however, have its disappointments. There was more foul language and sexual content than I remembered there being in the first book, which seemed out of place and unnecessary. One of the major plot twists was incredibly obvious, helped out by the fact that lines like the following were repeated over and over again: “Something else was going on with her, but he didn’t know what, and it bugged him.” These kinds of clues repeated so often, it was like hitting the reader upside the head, and anyone who didn’t get what was going on would have to be pretty clueless. Though the first part of the book had suspense-building events and kept the reader interested in figuring out who was causing the murders and why, but when its power was finally released, the final showdown played out with a Hollywood cheesiness that made it feel more like “Ghostbusters” than Stephen King. There were even a few pithy one-liners from the heroes that were overly nonchalant, considering their mortal peril. (“Surf’s up”???)
Though not as bone-chilling as the first book, it had its creepy moments, and was a fairly quick and easy read for someone interested in paranormal ghost stories and aren’t afraid of a bit of violence and gore, topped with the slightest taste of cheesiness.
Trevor, Drew, and Amber used to be the best of friends, until fifteen years ago when something happened inside the old Lowry House… something that none of them are able to remember or explain. When they meet up again at their fifteen-year class reunion, they hope to find out once and for all what really happened, but even as they attempt to recall the strange events of so long ago, stranger things are occurring all around them — and even within their own minds. Their friend Greg seems to hold the key to unraveling the mystery, but he seems to have secret plans of his own for the weekend…
Fans of the “Ghost Hunters” paranormal investigation series will appreciate the subtle tie-ins in this book, even if what the three friends are hunting isn’t technically a “ghost.” In fact, the two main lead males even sort of reminded me of Jason and Grant. The book is definitely one for adventure and fright-seekers, as there were a number of parts that were creepy, weird, and downright gruesome. They certainly know how to set the mood for getting people freaked out.
Large parts of the book were dream sequences or hallucinations, which — although I understand why it was done and it does fit with the resolution of the story — was sometimes a bit confusing. Whereas I thought Trevor and Drew were great characters with interesting personalities, Amber actually kind of annoyed me and seemed like just a weak link that the other two had to carry throughout the novel. Her advantage is supposed to be her premonition-type dreams, but when the others experience similar things, it takes away from her uniqueness and makes her look weak because, unlike them, she can’t emotionally deal with the visions.
A heads up: this novel does take a sort of New Age-ish approach to dealing with the powers of “the Darkness,” basically coming down to believing that friendship and positive thinking are what will vanquish the evil entity, rather than what they described as the other two possibilities — turning to Magic or religion. Now I’m pretty sure that if I ever run into an evil entity that has the ability to manipulate people’s minds and literally scare them to death, I’m not going to simply rely on my positive self-talk and overall peppy attitude to defeat him, but this is a work of fiction, and in the circumstances in this book, it kind of made sense.
Also, I noted one small error in the printed text, where on p128, Amber recalls, “It was a Saturday in September…” although throughout the rest of the book, it was clear that the events original events occurred in April.
Overall, this is kind of a freaky novel with some suspense, but not as much actual “ghost tracking” as I had expected. This is definitely an “adult” novel — be prepared for some fowl language, frightening imagery and gore.