The Haunting of Aaron House by Joyce Zeller

The Haunting of Aaron House by Joyce Zeller
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (158 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Evil ghosts, mystery, murder and mayhem await documentary film producer Paul Barlowe, his wife Sam, and their teenage son Andy when they arrive in Lancaster County, PA, from Chicago, to shoot a film on local history. Sam becomes the victim of Amalie Broome, circa 1867, tormented by past mysteries and determined to destroy Phineas, her husband, whose ghost lives in the other side of the house, and take Sam’s life as her own. To survive Sam must enter a world where folklore, spells, Pow-Wow faith healers and witches are taken for granted. Only the wisdom of an elderly seer will save them from destruction by the spirits that claim them.

Some ghosts are kind and friendly. Others, not so much.

The setting was deliciously frightening. I was especially fascinated by the narrator’s description of the house Samantha and Paul rented. I’ve seen houses with similar designs in real life, and they’ve always made me shiver. There’s something inherently creepy to me about squishing more than one architectural style into the same building, especially when so little care is taken to blend them together in any coherent manner. It seems to give a house more than one personality, and those personalities don’t always mesh well with each other.

There were far more reasons for these characters to abandon the old farm house than there were for them to stay there.The warning signs popped up so early in the plot that I had a hard time understanding why Paul and Samantha didn’t decide to find a different place to live, especially since they were accompanied by their young son. It’s certainly what I would have done if the place I was planning to stay made me as afraid of it as they were on their first visit!

Not every afterlife is a pleasant experience. One of the things I relished the most about this tale was how it explored what the afterlife was like for the ghosts that were connected to the farmhouse. Their backstories were explained early enough for me to understand why they behaved in certain ways but also late enough for me to build anticipation about what their lives might have been like when they were alive.

I would have liked to have more information about Samantha and Paul’s marriage. The communication between them left quite a bit to be desired. There were times when I wondered how they’d stayed together for so long because they seemed to have so many problems telling each other what they were really thinking and feeling. It might have made sense for a brand new couple, but it felt odd for two people who are raising a child and who have been together for many years to struggle so much in this area.

The secondary characters were lively and colorful. Seeing how they interacted with the main characters as well as with one another was a highlight of this story for me. Their occasional eccentricities made perfect sense given the culture of Lancaster, the town where this all takes place. I wouldn’t have expected anything else from this community.

The Haunting of Aaron House is a good choice for anyone who is in the mood for something romantic and paranormal.

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