Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Still grieving the sudden death of his lover, antiques dealer Flynn Ambrose moves to his uncle’s old, ramshackle house on Pitch Pine Lane to catalog and sell the large inventory of arcane and oddball items that once filled his late uncle’s mysterious museum.
Flynn suffered a serious breakdown and attempted to kill himself after his lover’s unexpected death, and he’s still very depressed despite the counseling and help from his parents. He needs space and makes a deal with his parents (which I won’t share details of as too much of a spoiler) that allows him to travels to the rather secluded property to perform the inventory. Unexpectedly, he finds himself seeing a ghost in an old mirror. The only one Flynn has to turn to is Kirk, the thirteen year older, slightly grouchy but handsome playwright renting the downstairs of his house. When Kirk is also witness to the apparition, he can’t write Flynn’s problem off as easily as he had wanted to. When the ghost seems able to exit the mirror, the guys find themselves trying figure out what to do about the mirror before the ghost does them in. But getting rid of the thing isn’t as easy as it seems.
This book is bit of a step back to the scary stories of old… and it is scary folks. But then, I knew Lanyon could do horror after reading In a Dark Woods came out of nowhere and scared the heck out of me. This one is not of the gory variety where stuff is thrown in just for the ick factor either. This is tried and true, get inside your head and freak you out kind of scary. It will make you want to read with the lights on, it will make you think, and it might also make you cry.
This story has several elements I loved. First, as you’d expect from Lanyon, there’s a well-done and very interesting mystery that takes us on a compelling journey into the prejudices of the past. But it’s also the tender and heartbreaking story of a young man trying to deal with suddenly losing the man he grew up with and had thought he’d spend his entire life with to such a incredibly freak accident at entirely too young an age. Flynn’s situation is so heartrending. He’s in no way over what happened, and yet we see glimpses of his underlying strength in the way he handles the events and the manor. Then there’s Kirk, a Ranger in Afghanistan who appears to be suffering from PTSD, although we didn’t get much depth to his backstory just yet. I am so eager to learn more about both these men and follow along their journey, hopefully to each other.
Winter is an excellent mystery with wonderful character building and just a touch of heat, but if you want insta-love and lots of hot sex, this one doesn’t quite fill that bill. What we have here is more of a romance in bloom, and I found that both refreshing and perfect for book one of a series. Wait, maybe it is insta-love in a way, because it certainly did make me fall in love with both Kirk and Flynn.
I enjoyed the way the mystery plays out ties and the tantalizing little clue tidbit at the end rounds it out perfectly. Overall this is an excellent ghost story to read this October.
Cover art. Just look at that lovely, eerie, moody cover! It’s beautiful. Highly recommended read.