‘The Haunting at Paradise House’ is a Young Adult (YA) Paranormal Fantasy offering from Killian Wolf, the first of the ‘Reapers of the Veil’ series. I was offered an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
It starts very nicely with a prologue featuring two ‘Reapers’ (agents of death) having a disagreement about where the responsibilities of their job begin and end; it was really quite promising, and could have contained some lovely satire and pathos. However, this wasn’t delved into very deeply before we moved on to the story, proper.
I think Wolf had so many ideas – and tried to cram so many of them in, while attempting to maintain the pace of the novel – that the story suffered.
Some things are skimmed over that shouldn’t be, such as the protagonist’s surprisingly extensive pre-knowledge of the occult and magick (perhaps the prologue should have been her growing up, showing where she got this knowledge, and building her relationship with her best friend), along with her ready acceptance of events and surprising talent at things she’d never done before (though this latter is not an unfamiliar complaint – you just need to look at Rey’s skill with the Force in Episodes 7 and 8 of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, for a recent example). This desire for pace regrettably defused some of the horrific tension that Wolf was working hard to build, and meant that the characterisation was somewhat two-dimensional.
Adversely, some things were over-explained – too much telling, not enough showing – and the exposition and repetition kicked me out of the novel a few times. I’d advise Wolf to trust her readers more; they’re young adults in the Information Age, and they can always look into a wider vocabulary or more details of the world’s practicalities, if they’re not sure.
An aside – a bugbear (and potentially controversial opinion):
I feel that Wolf could have avoided the pitfalls of the ‘shined’ / ‘shone’ debate by simply using a thesaurus – especially because in UK English (and most American English usage, as far as I’m aware) ‘shined’ only tends to get used when referring to the action of shining something up (as in shoes or an apple), e.g. ‘I had my shoes shined until they shone’. A torch / flashlight is never ‘shined’ upon something, though one might use a torch to shine a light upon something. What’s wrong with things being illuminated, lit, gleaming, glinting, sparkling, and all the rest? This usage hit me in the face every time, and smacked a little of Wolf attempting to show off her knowledge of the ‘correct’ usage (though that usage is debatable, of course).
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great ideas here: I love that it’s a female protagonist (though the Fantasy, SF, and Horror / Paranormal genres have never shied away from a more egalitarian character spread), I really liked the Reaper aspect but feel that this facet could have been explored more (I understand that a prequel, doing just this, is on the way), the description of the coffee percolating is very nicely done (it made me want one, so fair play), the cover is great, and some of the item descriptions are lovely – though the place descriptions, weirdly, seem lamentably ‘grey’.
As this was an ARC, some or all of my points may be addressed, remedied or ‘come out in the wash’ (I truly hope they do – and they are just my opinion) but unfortunately, I just didn’t feel as compelled to blast through the pages as I could have been and wanted to be – and I fear that a YA audience, with all the competition out there, may simply lose patience or interest.
If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?
When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.
Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.
Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?
I do not get paid for blog tours or reviews, and this is my honest feedback.