Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Pages/Word Count: 218 Pages
At a Glance: An Instant Favorite
Blurb: After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.
The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.
Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.
For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.
Review: With a brilliance I’ve come to rely upon with each new submission, Jordan L. Hawk has delivered another winning novel and has made me an immediate fan of her new Spirits series. Restless Spirits is a Gothic Horror novel in which the setting is as alive and integral to the plot as are the characters, their relationship to one another, and a malevolent spirit that imprisons them within its own hell.
One of the things that stood out for me as I started this book is that it wasn’t until a fair ways into it that the time in which the story takes place is firmly established. This is a Gaslight novel, but I’ll just throw out there for those readers who don’t usually gravitate toward Historical fiction: though Restless Spirits is set in the past, there is nothing within its pages that should dissuade you from reading it. Unless, of course, you don’t like a fantastic ghost story. Then there’s nothing I can say, really, to convince you to change your mind about picking this book up. But, that’s not going to stop me from trying.
Restless Spirits drew me in from page one, as medium Vincent Night is introduced in a rather macabre scenario that gives readers a mere glimpse of not only his gift but of the grief he harbors, a deep well of regret that has caused him to suppress his ability to channel spirits. As the story progresses, and he and his partner Lizzie Devereaux accept an invitation to perform an exorcism, the author sets up what will be the conflict between Vincent and inventor Henry Strauss, what becomes a rivalry filled with attraction and misperceptions.
For reasons quite valid to Henry, he and his cousin Jo have been working on a way to eliminate the human medium’s usefulness in channeling and exorcising the lingering imprints of the dead. Henry is going up against not only the luddites of the time to prove he’s right, but he’s also attempting to convince those who believe the human equation cannot be removed from communicating with the dead. The invitation and the chance to prove himself comes with a five-hundred dollar prize attached to it that he and Jo cannot afford to ignore. It’s money they’ll use to prove Henry’s advancements in science are valid, which will make people like Vincent and Lizzie, who are most assuredly frauds, obsolete.
Henry and Vincent, of course, get off to a wrong start from the moment they lay eyes on each other, and from there it’s a battle of mistrust, incorrect assumptions, and a competition to prove to their potential benefactor whose methods are the best to free Reyhome Castle of its ghosts. The sexual tension between Henry and Vincent is every bit as substantial as the danger they face from the ghost of the madman who murdered his family and now holds their spirits hostage within the walls of the castle, but it’s their individual pasts that inform every aspect of their interactions. And just when Henry begins to believe he may have been wrong is when Jordan L. Hawk lowers the boom, and evil feasts upon the ensuing unrest.
Hawk allows her readers to sleuth out the human element of danger in the storyline, which doesn’t do a thing to detract from the intrigue because it’s not the who but the why that is the true mystery. The big reveal is an exciting climax that was the perfect payoff to everything that led up to it. Danger and suspense at the turn of every page, twists and surprises and secrets revealed about the characters in this haunted mansion kept the action at a breathtaking high from start to finish. And, what appears to be true to form, this author has just penned a novel that is guaranteed to be on my “Best Books of 2015” list, no doubt about it.
You can buy Restless Spirits (Spirits: Book One) here: