Sunday, May 25

Victoria Laurie: Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend

When a ghost hunter is called in to rid an exclusive boarding school of a nasty spirit, she gets more than she bargained for. The ghost is that of a particularly nasty serial killer and it is terrorizing the ghosts of its victims, as well as the current student body and her business partner.
In the process of setting the victims’ spirits free and sending their tormentor to hell for good she uncovers a thirty year old secret that changes the lives of those concerned for ever.
I feel compelled to admit upfront that this great premise was let down, for me, by the author’s voice and character choice.
Let’s start with the gay best-friend/business partner. (Yes, Helen Fielding has a lot to answer for on this front.) I really don’t believe that this particular relationship dynamic exists widely outside of chic lit. I can speak only from my own experience of course but the gay people I know, both male and female, generally don’t have opposite sex ‘best friends’. Friends yes, but best-friends in the sense that most women understand it, no. So, for me, this wasn’t working from the start but add in the fact that he was the embodiment of all the worst clich├ęs of the gay man (flirted with everyone with a penis, felt free to comment on women’s clothes, hair, make-up, anatomy, was an out and out coward, minced rather than walked) and this was more of a caricature than a character
The ‘love interest’ (and I use the term advisedly) was multi-lingual with English being his fifth language. The author chose to demonstrate his language difficulties, and possibly tried to add a little humour, by having him constantly get colloquialisms wrong by a word or two. It got old very quickly. Thankfully he disappears for about a third of the novel.
The main character herself seemed to have a bit of a chip upon her shoulder about her abilities. In fact, to me, she had a boarder line victim mentality about them. Nobody understood what she did (not surprising given that rather than use a simple phrase they would understand she insisted on going the whole pseudo scientific jargon explanation first) and once they did they immediately thought she was some sort of charlatan. She would then wow them with her amazing abilities and they would go from die hard sceptic to believer in a matter of moments. I’ve no doubt a professional psychic will come across more than their share of sceptics but surely that wouldn’t be everyone they meet and from my understanding it is a gift that can’t be turned on and off like a tap when needed. In any case most sceptics require a lot more convincing than she had to offer.
Apart from this she didn’t behave in a way that I thought logical for someone hunting ghosts. For example at no point does she attempt to discover the full legend behind the ghost, surely that would be a place to start when she had no other leads as to who it might be.
In spite of my perceived flaws, the storyline was good enough to have me persevere on to the end and I can quite understand how others might enjoy this series but it is not for me.-Lynn

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