I have a lot (like half a 4X3ft bookshelf worth) of books that my aunt gave me. I need to read them, as well as the other half of the bookshelf which are random things I have picked up over the years but never gotten around to reading. I was trying to read a book per week, documented on my Instagram account (jenovotony, if anyone’s interested), but then life got a little crazy, and I haven’t really kept up with it. Now, I’m going to try to keep doing that, but also reviewing the books that I read. Allons-y.
For a book titled The Séance, there sure isn’t much séancing going on here. In fact, there’s just a brief fling with a Ouija board and an even briefer séance later which doesn’t really do much to further the plot. Misleading title aside, this was a quick read, and was decently written, so I can’t completely pan it.
So, good things first: Kept me guessing about the murderer; Irish people; great sensory descriptions; Jack Russell terrier; great setting.
And now, I have caveats for all of those points. Point One: Often the book kept me questioning my decision about who the murderer was, but in the end, my guess from approximately page 100 was still correct. The suspense was occasionally suspenseful, but the same gag employed too many times soon fell flat. Example: Christina is going to answer the door, who could it be? Maybe the murderer! Oh, just kidding. So not.
And while we’re on this point, how many times can the same five characters come to visit in the course of, what, a week? Terrifying telephone rings and doorbell dings can only sustain suspense for so long before I start speed-reading.
Point two: Although the Irish are mentioned many times in relation to the (arguably) main character, there really wasn’t enough mention of why she has this gift because she’s Irish, as hinted in the prologue. Other than that, yay whiskey in tea and redheads.
Point three: My only complaint about the sensory descriptions, which were often really fabulous, is that they were repeated very often. Everything was cold. There was always a strange chill. Somebody watching you. Fog. Mist. Dark. Cold again. I get that ghosts are supposed to bring cold, but why does the proximity of the killer do that, too, when no one knows who it is?
Point four: The Jack Russell terrier had more personality, was more realistic, and was more important to the plot than most of the human supporting characters. I’m looking at you, Ana.
Point five: Actually, I have no problems with this. I thought it was wonderful.
I thought the characters had promise that was often left untapped due to Graham’s penchant for repetition to get her point across rather than variety. Seriously, I get that Christina is a redhead. I get that Jed’s wife died young. And by page 26 I get that these two are the main characters and that they are going to get it on somewhere in the middle of the book. Granted, that last point is probably just a requisite of the genre, which seems to be preternatural romance/murder mystery. Or maybe the romance was just incidental to the murder mystery. Anyway, it felt forced, and like it was being shoved down my throat that I had to like this couple. No real reason. Just because.
Final criticism: the point of view had way too many changes. I like the idea of third-person omniscient. However, the use of it here completely gave the plot away because the killer was the only person whose name was not used when looking from his viewpoint. Additionally, the passages from the killer’s viewpoint were the least interesting, most useless, and totally did not help build suspense. I get what the author was trying to do with making the reader suspicious of each character in turn, but it just really didn’t work out here.
Overall, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. The writing didn’t make me want to rage quit in the middle, and it was a quick, fluffy read. Not something I plan to pick up again, but maybe worth the time if you have a lazy afternoon to kill and like ghosts. Well, ghost. He reminded me a bit of Casper, but he makes coffee. Sign me up. The ghost was more alluring than the male lead in this book anyway.