Welcome to a maybe-new-thing on No Facilities. It’s new, but it won’t be a regular weekly post. I read a lot of books, but I don’t write enough reviews. This past year, people have been so kind writing reviews of my books, that I decided to change that. So, I thought I’d make it a thing, since I do better remembering things. In this debut post, I am featuring two books by three women. Huh? Hang on, it will make sense about halfway down. Although I didn’t plan for this to happen, these books have some things in common, since both involve the subject of spiritualism, so it was ironic, or perhaps serendipitous that I ended up reading them at the same time.
A Peril in Ectoplasm – Just Once More by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
Anyone who is familiar with this blog knows that I love Teagan’s writing. Whether it’s a serial story on her blog or one of her books, I haven’t read anything by her that I haven’t totally enjoyed and “A Peril in Ectoplasm” has been added to that list.
I no longer say, “I don’t normally read this genre” because Teagan has never failed to draw me into a story and hold my attention. In this case, her characters (and there are quite a few), her detailed knowledge of the area, and her fluent understanding of the language of the 1920s augment a plot that could only come from the mind of Teagan.
As I introduce you to my reviews, I need to point out that I don’t like spoilers. With, as I think Teagan described this, a short story that grew into a novella, it’s hard not to introduce things that are important, but I need to say something. I can say that I love the female characters in this story. OK, all but one. Teagan’s women are smart and strong. They might have flaws, but they recognize them and work around them. They will not be pushed around. I also understand, like, and appreciate the male characters – all but one.
Does it sound like I’m describing a Broadway show? There are a lot of characters, Teagan calls it an ensemble cast, and I love books with an ensemble cast. I am always impressed by an author that can hold that together. Teagan gives us a variety of characters, helps us to know them well, and works them into a novella to the point that I was sure they all belonged in the story.
From the blurb:Read the entire blurb, and/or buy the book here.
In 1920s Florida, Spiritualism enjoys renewed interest. Daphne Moultrie, the most powerful medium of her time, receives a warning from the other side, “Find her, and keep her with you. Or you will die.” All Daphne knows about this girl is what her crystal ball showed her — a four-leaf clover, and each leaf had a human eye.
I felt as if I was living in the 1920’s as I read this book. I felt the emotion of the characters, including a healthy dose of fear, and I became emotionally involved with the story. I was touched by the way family members share a special bond, the understanding of each other’s thoughts, and a level of concern that drives a person forward without thinking. I was also reminded that, sometimes, friends are closer than family. If you enjoy a story that brings you into a world you can scarcely imagine, and makes you feel like you’re one of the people in the room, A Peril in Ectoplasm is a book you should consider. It’s a fast read, and not a word is wasted.
The title of this book is what first caught my eye. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. According to her bio, Staci Troilo attended Carnegie Mellon University. Staci likely remembers that these two universities are separated by Panther Hollow. When I realized Chatham Hollow is set in western Pennsylvania, and that co-author, Mae Clair is also from Pennsylvania, I had to know more. Until I read this book, I hadn’t read anything other than blog posts by either of these two women. I always enjoyed those posts, especially the one(s) where they explained how they wrote this book together.
That’s why I bought the book, but my roots in this area quickly proved to be unimportant. By the end of the Prologue, I was hooked, and I would have been had I just arrived from Mars.
The story is complex. It takes place in two periods, separated by about 130 years, and it begins almost 100 years earlier – that is, the nexus event connecting these two stories occurred in 1793. If that sounds confusing, I can tell you, it is not. Mae and Staci wrote the story together. According to their blogs, they each took charge of one of the time periods. Daunting as that might sound, the story reads as if it was conjured up in one mind and told by one person. And make no mistake, this is an amazing story being told.
From the blurb:Read the entire blurb, and/or buy the book here.
Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow, is infamous for two things—hidden treasure and a curse upon anyone bold enough to seek it. Since his passing in 1793, no one has discovered his riches, though his legend has only grown stronger.
In 1888, charlatan Benedict Fletcher holds a séance to determine the location of Chatham’s fortune. It’s all a hoax so he can search for the gold, but he doesn’t count on two things—Victor Rowe, a true spiritualist who sees through his ruse, and Chatham’s ghost wreaking havoc on the town.
Is this a ghost story? Yes, but it is so much more than that. The characters, the mortal characters, in the ‘here and now’ – or the ‘there and then’ – are fully developed and have lives, loves, baggage, issues, hopes, and fears just like we do. They are also tangled up in a supernatural scenario with obligations to fulfill – obligations that may get them killed.
It’s rare for me to relate well to a character in a story. I usually feel some compassion for a character that is under stress, and I can often understand, perhaps even share a character’s fear or ambition. In this book, each character is easy to relate to. I understood when characters didn’t want to do something. I understood when they forced or tried to force others to do something, and I understood when they realized what they had to do. I was drawn into this story and felt myself playing these roles. I felt myself being driven by fear, anger, concern, greed, and curiosity. These feelings kept me turning pages until way past my bedtime.
When I post these reviews in all the usual places, I will give both books five stars, and I highly recommend reading both. I have read most of Teagan’s books, and I will snag her next book, ASAP. I will soon be shopping Mae’s and Staci’s catalogs. I love it when I find new authors to follow.