Author: JS Donovan
Publisher: Kindle publishing
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The book consists of three short novels, beginning with a prequel, and going on to the solving of a cold case more than 40 years old.
In 1983, Reginald and Lilith live with their children, 9-year-old Amanda and 7-year-old Benny, in their sprawling home, Hadley House, when two masked men enter and shoot them all down mercilessly.
In 2009, Rachel and her husband, Brett, buy the house and move in. She is an artist, specializing in creepy art. He is a nature photographer.
Strange things happen from the very beginning. Doors swing wide open. Things are found in places other than where they had been kept. An annoying couple, Shaw and his wife, Eva, insist they want to buy the house.
The odd thing is that only Rachel senses the fact that something is odd about their new house. Brett remains blissfully unaware. It doesn’t help that Rachel’s mother has been institutionalized. Rachel’s efforts to convey what she is sensing lead others to question her sanity. Rachel herself fears for her own fate.
While in the basement, she is assaulted by horrific episodes of objects flying at her, spiders attacking her, until finally the dead kids reveal themselves to her and ask for help in nailing their killers. Anxious to regain her peace of mind, Rachel goes about investigating the deaths, against the wishes of Brett. Her poking around ruffles feathers, and before long, she and Brett are attacked in their own home.
At the close of this book, Rachel discovers her calling, solving cold murder cases, thanks to her Gift of being able to see dead people, a gift that her mother had. She is invited by Detective Jenson Peak to join the police department and help them solve cases.
In the second book, Haunting of Rachel Harroway, Book 1, which opens years after the prequel, Rachel has accepted Peak’s offer, and now partners with him in solving cold cases. They are called at the scene of a crime where the bones of a 17-year-old girl, dead for 40 years, have been found. Soon Rachel sees the spirits of seven teenagers, all of who were killed in the same manner by a serial killer.
When the body of another teenager is found, killed in the same manner, Rachel and Jenson realise that the killer is very much alive. Now their own lives are in danger, as the serial killer, now a respectable man, tries his best to add Rachel and Peak to his body count.
The third book, Haunting of Rachel Harroway, Book 2, continues the story begun in Book 1. It begins with the discovery of the body of the serial killer, who has been killed by an unknown murderer. Rachel and Peak race to find out who killed the serial killer and if this murderer will strike again. To make matters worse, the serial killer, though dead, plagues Rachel with visions of torture that feel all too real, and threatens her with everlasting torture unless she manages to bring his killer to book.
The descriptions are good and set the mood. The sense of dread that the author evokes in us at Rachel’s plight feels real, even though the tropes used to evoke fear, the silhouette in the mirror, the tug on the shirt when there’s no one around etc, are the usual ones over-used in most paranormal fiction.
Rachel’s character is well drawn. The book gives us the right amount of back story for her, helping us to relate better.
There are several errors like "Reginald raised his aims." Brett is misspelled as Bret in one place.
In one place, the author says, “the sharp of an L.” It should clearly have been ‘shape.’ In another instance, the author says, "After some undisclosed amount of time…" Maybe it was part of an earlier draft that the author failed to weed out.
In the first part, I had an issue with the omniscient narrator’s tone of disrespect. The librarian at the Hudson Library is referred to as “a crone,” while in another case, Rachel’s mother is described as “went off her rocker.”
A good editor could have corrected the grammar and eliminated the shady phrasing. In certain places, the sentence construction was quite awkward. Thankfully, the errors are far fewer in number in Books 1 and 2. Either the author got his act together or he found himself a better editor.
In spite of the errors, I found myself warming up to both Rachel and Peak, enjoying the tension as Rachel sees hundreds of dead people all around. All these dead people have died violent deaths, and are now looking to Rachel to give them justice and peace.
I look forward to reading more of Rachel’s cases.