Title: The Paranaturalist
Author: Ki Brightly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 340 Pages
At a Glance: All in all, an entertaining story; a little frustrating in parts, but enjoyable.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.
When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and Owen realizes he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is reacclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.
Review: Though I have read paranormal books with a mildly similar premise, the twists and turns and overall situations Ki Brightly developed in this book made it unique enough that I was anticipating what may happen; along with the characters, it kept me engrossed and invested in the outcome.
Joe Appleyard and Owen Watson are fascinating characters in that they both have the ability to see beyond, into something… more. Their abilities aren’t exactly the same, and Owen has a little more training, but ultimately, once they meet they realize that they share a bond, that there is someone else out there who can finally—maybe—understand one another.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, and I feel the blurb does a decent job of giving us the highlights of the novel. I will say I truly enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the book. It was entertaining and interesting to see the different types of beings out there beyond the normal human’s awareness, and seeing Owen and Joe figure one another out and begin to explore what they feel for one another.
I don’t like it when I don’t feel anything towards characters in a book. In this case, I had all kinds of feelings. The author did a great job with the MCs and creating characters that were realistic in their thought processes, and even sometimes stupidity. I hate it when characters are perfection, making them caricatures. Humans by nature screw up, misunderstand, have pet peeves and quirks. Joe and Owen are both anything but perfect. They make bad decisions, they make good ones, they say things that are misconstrued, and misconstrue what others say to them. But they were overall good men who were trying to do the best they could. The secondary characters were also well done, and there is quite a cast from Joe’s crew on his TV show (Scott, Cherry, and Margot) to Owen’s roommates and boss, along with some spirits that make it interesting. Some of the characters I was very fond of, other’s I wanted to do violent things to. Nothing says character development like me growling at a character’s actions or words.
I will say I feel this book spent a little too much time focusing on Joe and Scott’s situation, and Scott in general, than I would have liked. Although I understood the reality of the situation Joe was in, and that it made sense that it was a something Joe would internally struggle with, I had a difficult time figuring out why Joe cared about Scott to the level he did and frankly, was exasperated with Joe often. I got tired of reading about Joe’s thoughts on Scott, I got tired of his back and forth and really just wanted to get back to Owen and Joe. I think the author tried to expand and help the reader have a little more empathy towards Scott, and maybe understand Joe’s feelings, towards the end, but I had a difficult time wanting to do that, to even try to understand Scott’s actions and behavior.
Even though there was a little frustration on some of the focus, I have to say I truly did enjoy The Paranaturalist. If there is another book planned (and I hope there is), I would definitely pick it up because there is so much to be explored with the foundation set in this book.
You can buy The Paranaturalist here: