Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-7434-7090-2
Paranormal Romance, 2007
Oh, I like this one. Lisa Cach’s A Babe in Ghostland is a contemporary romance set in a haunted house. A spooky romance, if you will. It’s a shame that this book isn’t released come Halloween because this book is made for that day. While the story isn’t too scary, Ms Cach’s brand of scares are old-school in the sense that she builds up the atmosphere and uses fear of the unknown like strange sounds in the night instead of gore or violence, so there is a nice Gothic horror feel to the story.
Megan Barrows has an affinity for ghosts. So far she has not seen an actual ghost, but she can sense them. She can also “feel” emotions or “see” memories of the long dead people associated with an object or a place. It’s hard for me to describe Megan’s gift exactly – you have to see her in action to fully understand what she is capable of. Our hero Case Lambert makes a living renovating and restoring old houses to be resold in the market but he has decided to keep one particular old house for himself. Unfortunately, this house is haunted. While he doesn’t believe in ghosts, he allows a self-proclaimed paranormal expert Eric Ramsey to investigate and hopefully zap the ghosts for him. Eric says that he needs Megan, an old acquaintance, to help him, so Case approaches Megan to persuade her to join the party.
At first I am puzzled by Case. He’s a skeptic and he doesn’t believe in ghosts, or so he says, so his continuous participation in this ghost hunting party doesn’t make much sense to me. Surely he isn’t that bored, is he? Nonetheless he apologizes so prettily to Megan for doubting her later on so maybe I’ll just be magnanimous and assume that he’s just curious and he doesn’t have anything else to do in his free time. Both Megan and Case are enjoyable characters to read about and root for. They both have parent issues which allow them to share a common bond between them. To be honest, I don’t find their romance too believable, mostly because of the short span of time that this story takes place over. Nonetheless, I’m sure these two will be fine.
I’m actually more interested in the haunted house mystery than the romance. A Babe in Ghostland turns out to be a very entertaining story as our main characters discover clues that help them piece together what happened in the house when they are not encountering ghosts that may or may not be friendly. The atmosphere in this story is very well done, from the creaks in the dark to the fear felt by Megan as she faces the unknown. I personally feel the confrontation with the ultimate baddies is rather anticlimactic because it is over so quickly but on the whole A Babe in Ghostland is a very well-written spooky tale.
I have one reservation though: I appreciate the amount of research Ms Cach did prior to working on this book and the tidbits she drops in this book are fun as well as fascinating. However, there are many instances of conversations where Megan is explaining Ghosts and Bumpy Uglies 101 to Case in a way that seems to be lifted straight from a textbook. Still, this is just a minor complain on my part. A Babe in Ghostland is like… I don’t know, Ms Cach’s attempt to make The Amtyville Horror the new Titanic or something. Whatever it is, it works for me.