Title: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists
Author: Angel Martinez
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Length: 180 Pages
At a Glance: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists has a great premise but simply lost its way. Author Angel Martinez is an incredibly gifted writer—but this story was just not on par with her usual flair.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: A poltergeist haunts Taro, dogging his international travels. It washes glasses, puts dishes away, and even dusts. At least he hopes it’s a cleaning-obsessed poltergeist and not his own anxieties burbling over into neat freak fits he doesn’t remember. When his property manager suggests he call paranormal expert, Jack Montrose, Taro’s skeptical but desperate enough to try even a ghost hunter.
Jack’s arrival crushes Taro’s hopes of a dashing Van Helsing-style hero. Instead of an invincible hunter, he gets Ichabod Crane. As the paranormal puzzles multiply and Jack begins to suggest the entity might not be a ghostly one, Taro adds a budding friendship with Jack to his pile of anxieties. It’s a race to see whether Taro’s poltergeist or his relationship with the obviously-not-ace Jack will reach maximum strangeness first.
Review: I want to start by saying that I have found this author’s work to be some of the most amusing and clever paranormal offerings currently on the market today. I truly enjoy Angel Martinez and how she can create characters that are rich and vibrant, supernatural and yet so humanly flawed, and still manage, each time, to infuse her stories with incredible humor. I also love that she has expanded her storylines to include an Ace character who is intelligent and unwilling to compromise his needs just to hang on to someone with whom he really, genuinely feels a strong connection. Having said all that, there were some difficulties I could not get around in her latest novel, Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists.
The story started out on a rather thin premise for me. Taro wins the lottery–a huge amount–and after settling some on his family and giving some to charity, he decides to invest his earnings in several homes around the globe, spending a week or so in each to gather information for what he hopes will be a travel-style novel he is wanting to write. While this was a lofty goal, the quiet, rather scared man seemed the least likely to begin globetrotting as a new house owner. Along the way, he apparently picks up some paranormal creature that likes to tidy up after him rather obsessively. Uncertain as to what to do, Taro returns to his first purchased home in New York, and gets in touch with a ghost hunter Jack Montrose. Here is where the story began to take off; Jack was so endearing as a bumbling expert on the paranormal, and the two of them eventually figure out that what they have are some very OCD poltergeists who have been hitching a ride in Taro’s luggage for quite some time.
Along with this rather fun premise, there is this vague sense of attraction slowly growing between Taro and Jack, but we soon discover that for Taro, affection and attraction take on a different form—the act of intimate physical contact being both uncomfortable and unneeded for him. Taro is asexual and Jack is not. This spells a real recipe for disaster unless Jack can be willing to be a part of a relationship that means more cuddling than physical sex.
Here is where the novel got incredibly awkward to read. I understood, I think, that the author was trying to give us an example of what it must be like to explain your asexuality to the person whom you really like, and could possibly love, but the examples Taro uses were both confusing and frankly a bit juvenile. Rightfully so, Jack does not initially understand what Taro is trying to tell him. After we dispense with that, however, there is a genuine moment between the characters where Jack begins to grasp how Taro views the idea of attraction, and the two tentatively move forward together. Unfortunately, unlike other Ace characters I have read, we never truly get into Taro’s mind, or Jack’s, for that matter, and so the budding relationship seems shallow and forced from that point on. It’s as if the idea of creating this type of partnership had good intentions, but the author was unable to fully flesh it out, so it remained unfinished and a bit bland as a result.
Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists has a great premise but simply lost its way. The plot was not involved enough, the characters remained a bit undeveloped, and the trademark humor one is used to associating with this author fell short as well. Author Angel Martinez is an incredibly gifted writer—but this story was just not on par with her usual flair.
You can buy Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists here: