Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story by Shani Struthers

EVE
Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story by Shani Struthers
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Holiday, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (114 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

What do you do when a whole town is haunted?

In 1899, in the North Yorkshire market town of Thorpe Morton, a tragedy occurred; 59 people died at the market hall whilst celebrating Christmas Eve, many of them children. One hundred years on and the spirits of the deceased are restless still, ‘haunting’ the community, refusing to let them forget.

In 1999, psychic investigators Theo Lawson and Ness Patterson are called in to help, sensing immediately on arrival how weighed down the town is. Quickly they discover there’s no safe haven. The past taints everything.

Hurtling towards the anniversary as well as a new millennium, their aim is to move the spirits on, to cleanse the atmosphere so everyone – the living and the dead – can start again. But the spirits prove resistant and soon Theo and Ness are caught up in battle, fighting against something that knows their deepest fears and can twist them in the most dangerous of ways.

They’ll need all their courage to succeed and the help of a little girl too – a spirit who didn’t die at the hall, who shouldn’t even be there…

Not everyone finds peace after death. Will Theo and Reggie be able to help the people who have been stuck between this world and the next for a century?

One of the things I liked the most about Reggie and Theo is how much they seemed to appreciate each other as friends and coworkers. They worked really well together as a team, especially when certain ghosts were being aggressive. Both characters were aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their partner. This awareness made them a lot of fun to read about because of how quick they were to try something new when the spirits they were interacting with grew dangerous.

The pacing was affected by the development of a subplot about two-thirds of the way through this tale. While I was definitely intrigued by what was going on with that subplot, I would have liked to explore it much earlier in the storyline. Placing it so close to the climax made it difficult for the narrator to keep the pacing as strong as it had been earlier on because there were so many other conflicts going on simultaneously. This was a minor blip in an otherwise great book, though.

The ghosts were well written. The explanations of how they died and why they’d become trapped in this world made me sympathize with their experiences, but their behavior made me shudder. Normally ghost stories focus on one of these approaches to the paranormal much more than the other, so it was really interesting to feel both emotions equally and simultaneously as I was reading.

Give Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story a try if you’re in the mood for something bittersweet.

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