Author: Corinna Underwood
Publisher: Lazyday Publishing
Published: October 30, 2012
Source: Received from the author
in exchange for an honest review
Read: January 25-27, 2013
In A Few Words: Realistic, Rational
My Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads: Add This To Your TBR Shelf
Pearl Blackthorn is a novelist and investigative reporter for Darkside paranormal magazine. Armed with her digital recorder and accompanied by her friend and photographer Harry Raymond, Pearl is sent by her editor J.J Benson - affectionately known as Benny - to the four corners of Great Britain, (and sometimes further), to investigate stories of spirits and specters, demons and doppelgangers, prophecy and possession. The problem is, Pearl doesn’t believe in the supernatural; her creative imagination is tempered by a strong skepticism. She is immovable on her stand that there is always a simple, rational explanation behind every report of paranormal activity. But Pearl soon realizes that the intricacies of paranormal events are often far from simple and not always rational.
This is a nice collection of stories, though I wish that they had been somewhat more spooky. They are all set up and executed well, but the suspense just isn't there.
I think some of my lack of enthusiasm has to do with Pearl's character being so realistic. I understand that the setup is meant for her to be this way, but it feels like her character sucks all the fun out of everything. And these experiences that could be really spooky if they were left as they were, without her explanations. To that end, Pearl's sidekick on her journey, her photographer friend, Harry, is much more of a believer. But, his enthusiasm doesn't quite make up for Pearl's lack of it.
The variety of the stories is really nice. There's everything from ghosts, to telepathy, to mysterious puzzle boxes, to voodoo curses. The stories are all meant to be connected, since Pearl is researching them for Darkside magazine, but honestly, I feel that these would be a lot better as standalone stories. The underlying tie-in thread is very weak, and doesn't really serve to bind them all together.
There are a few details that I wish had been fleshed out a little more. In the first story, "The Secret in the Sanctuary" Pearl starts out driving through the Welsh countryside. Along the way there are lots of signs and town names that she runs across. I thought it might be more helpful to readers if there were translations of the meanings of the Welsh words in to English. It probably seems like such a picky detail, but I think it would help the reader to understand the story that much better.
One other structural aspect that pulled me out of the reading was the timeline. All of these instances of strange happenings were resolved within two days. Even though Pearl's tendency to explain these all away makes for shortened time lines, I feel that they could have been just a little bit longer.
Overall, this is a nice collection. There are some stories with deeply religious undertones, so I wanted to point that out for anyone who doesn't care for those types of stories. I'd recommend this for someone who's more of a skeptic when it comes to ghost stories.