For August, I’d like to take a peek at paranormal versus normal. C’mon, do any of us believe that there is really anything that is truly normal? I use the word average when I want to imply what others think of as normal. How can normal be real when everyone is a unique individual and every circumstance is different when considered from a different perspective, right? Now with paranormal, we have something that’s easier to explain. Yep, that sounds totally normal! According to Wikipedia, paranormal are those things that lie outside what we think of as normal. There’s that word again. But they go on to explain that they mean things that aren’t easily explained based on typical experience and for which science has not determined answers. We tend to think of things like ghosts, spirits, levitation, predicting the future through “visions” and the like. No, not vampires, that’s fantasy and I’ll do that another month! So with this information in mind, consider the following titles:
16-year-old Clare can't stop drawing the bizarre, winged skulls she calls "Sammies". Her psychiatrist assumes the compulsive drawings are just expressions of Clare's grief over her father abandoning her. But then Clare discovers that her Sammies are exact matches for the Death's Head on the grave of Samantha Forsythe, a teen who reportedly fell to her death over two centuries ago.
Before long, Clare's drawings morph into cryptic writings that urge her to uncover the truth behind Samantha's death. Together with Neil -- the friend she might be falling for -- Clare scours the local history for clues. She finds that, although Samantha was engaged to a wealthy landowner, there were whispered rumors of her involvement with a younger, biracial man.
Soon, Clare is haunted by disturbing dream images -- a mysterious eye, a broken chain -- that point to someone Samantha called her "Dearest". But who is Dearest? And why does Samantha need Clare to find him so badly?
Isolated and carrying hidden scars of her own, Clare fears her obsession with Samantha will threaten her sanity and safety. But it seems she has no choice in the matter . . .
The Grave Artist is a compelling paranormal murder mystery and a poignant story about loss and what it means thrive in a less-than-perfect reality.
My ReviewAlmost normal … paranormal is the best description I can offer for this title. While the basic story is a contemporary review of what has become all too normal life of late, family splits, divorces, changing schools, mixed race kids, emotional static, you know, normal. But, in this story, mix that with what is going on just below the surface which is totally paranormal and you have the recipe for a very interesting tale. I was at one point sure that I’d find the main character was experiencing prior lives, but alas, this is an even stranger story than that. Great storytelling on Ms Johnson’s part, yet totally believable … well, you know … if you’re a believer.
As a member of the Order of the Round Table, Kendall Lake is overqualified to be investigating strange phenomena at a seaside photography studio. But since the photographer is related to the Order's most powerful sorcerer, Kendall reluctantly boards a dirigible to Brighton.
Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow that appears in some of her recent portraits. In each case, the subject died within days of the sitting. Does she have her grandmother's gift of foresight, or has she somehow caused the deaths?
As Kendall and Amy search for answers, their investigation draws them together in a most improper way--but it seems the evil presence in the studio is determined to keep them apart..
My ReviewThis quick and entertaining tale is set in the beach community of Brighton in England in 1855 so it actually is one of those titles that bridges genres. It is both a gaslight fiction as well as a paranormal story. The central character is a great female lead that goes against the social norms by supporting herself as a professional photographer. However when spiritual images begin to appear in her work and that coincide with deaths, well, it does add that spooky undercurrent. There is no doubt that Ms. Pape is a fine storyteller and will be around for quite some time to come. While this story is a little short on development of characters and plot, it gave me enough insight into a solid writer who has all the requisite skills to entertain. I enjoyed what was there in this really quick read and surely I'll try another of her works before making any final decision.
Keep a look out for Part 2, coming soon!
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