Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
I was really excited to read this one because I enjoyed the first one in the series, The Supers. Coming off of a house exploration where there was no paranormal activity, the guys get asked to investigate McGregor Mansion. The gothic style house was built in the 1780’s, so there have been plenty of deaths on the property. There is something weird and dangerous going on right away.
Many of the details just don’t gel for me in this book. We’re told Payne McGregor is at his wit’s end and is ready to pay for an exorcism, yet at the house he seems resigned, dismissive of the things that are happening. We keep getting told how rude Will, the cameraman, is to Payne upon meeting, but I didn’t read it that way at all so I was a little confused. It wasn’t until about chapter four that we even get a bare bones description of what Payne looks like (trim beard and glasses.) Then, even though he is older than the other characters, and highly educated, he ends up sounding the same way they do when he thinks or speaks. As soon as possession came up, Flynn said he was “out” which I assume was a stress response to what happen in the first book. It’s unclear to me if he was kidding or not, but he does stay with the team.
There are other things that don’t work for me. For example, near the beginning Will is worried about demons. Later, randomly, we get this sentence “‘None of the workers saw a demon, though, right?’ Payne offered.” Why was Payne worried about demons? (As a weird aside, daemon is the Latin word for the ancient Greek daimon which is just a benevolent spirit; the idea of malevolent “demons” is ancient Near Eastern and Abrahamic. I thought it was strange Will used holy water and then prayed at one point, even if it was casually done in fear. If the author is going with quasi-Christian ideals, what is done with the bones later is anathema. My personal preference would have been to do without religious references altogether.) The first book was more atmospheric, even though the situation turned out to be less dire. I also missed the sexual tension from the previous book. I like forced proximity as a trope, but the time shifting scenario created to get Payne and Will together didn’t help cement their attraction like it was meant to. The banter seemed forced and the flirting was strange and awkward. Even if they were being influenced by a ghost, this was handled in a very clunky way so I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the explicit sex scene that happens after.
The plot moves towards the final showdown in the basement. This time when Will is possessed it is very noticeable; if it had been that bad in the beginning I doubt the men would have been able to shrug that off and still get together so it makes me understand what the author was trying to do at the beginning. The other problem is what they do with the bones. No matter how you slice or dice it, they broke the law. Since there are clues about where this takes place (Aero bar and Coffee Crisp), my best guess would be Canada. I don’t know Canadian law but the Coronor’s Act or the Archaeology Act would have to be considered. In the UK, it would be the Burial Act of 1857. If this takes place in the US, state laws differ, but every jurisdiction has some kind of law governing the discovery of human remains. In Utah, for instance, it is a third degree felony for anyone except an archaeologist, the Medical Examiner’s office, law enforcement, or a licensed mortician to disturb, move, remove, conceal, or destroy human remains. Since they are filming this to make a TV show, it’s a problem. Maybe in trying to appeal to all audiences the author was vague about which country this actually takes place in, but the devil is still in the details. Like when after all this incredibly disgusting stuff happens, Will kisses Payne on the neck before they take a shower. I cannot even convey how skeeved out this made me.
This could have been a nice opposites attract story with the mild mannered librarian and the cameraman who looks like a biker–with both of them liking organization and being compatible in the bedroom, it would have worked. As it is I have a difficult time believing they are moving in together after two days. While I really liked the first book in the series, this suffers a bit by comparison. Since there are two more ghost hunters in the group, I would expect there to be two more books for Jason and Darnell who are barely mentioned in this book. I would cautiously recommend this book if you like ghost stories and want an easy read as long as you are not too concerned with having a lot of detail.
The cover artist is Alexandria Corza. It is in keeping with the other Dreamspun Beyond covers. The model represents the main character Payne, who is a librarian. Some of the scenes also take place in the library of the mansion so it’s appropriate to the story.
Published October 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesThe Supers #2