Review Detail

Chasing Ghosts, by Dean Cole
Books EW Elaine White July 27, 2020 570
  POV: 1st person, past-tense, one character POV
 Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Romance, Horror, LGBT

 Chasing Ghosts is the first in an intriguing new series from Dean Cole. With a dash of romance, a touch of chills, and a whole lot of mystery, Cole brings together a group of diverse characters to experience a ghost hunting weekend they'll never forget, weaving a spell over each and every one.
 Giving off vibes that blend The Haunting, Rose Red and a dash of Shaun of the Dead, there is just enough romance and humour to balance out the creep-factor. Meaning even I – who really doesn't like to be scared – was able to read this at night, without nightmares. Which I'm extremely grateful for.

 I've been a fan ever since I read “His Boy” in 2018, and I've been eagerly anticipating another novel, since. I'm super late getting round to reading it, due to work and life, but as soon as I started it, I devoured it.

 From the start, our MC and protagonist, Quentin, is an intrigue. A touch morose and naive, a whole lot hypochondriac, and a little bit broken on the inside, Quentin is the perfect blend of sceptical but open-minded. He wants to believe in the supernatural, has experienced a little of it already, but he's also scared of what that means, so shields himself behind scepticism and trusting others to lead the way.

 Our side characters are a ragtag team: the Freaky Foursome of paranormal investigators, psychic Esther, rich couple Ash and Matt, grumbling writer Will, the household staff Mrs Brown and Stan Crouch, and last but never least, Quentin's work partner and loveable super-bitch, Kat. The people we see the most are Kat and Will, as Quentin's work colleague and love interest, but we get to see quite a bit of Mrs Brown, Stan plays the creepy caretaker, and the cutesy couple take a backseat to Ash's troublesome mutt, Cottonball.

 I utterly fell in love with Quentin from the start. I grew to love Will. It took some time to connect to Kat and appreciate her. But, most of all, what I really loved was that the story might have had a sliver of romance, but it was *real*. It wasn't insta-love or insta-lust, even. Quentin was mourning someone who owned his whole heart, and Will was recovering from a 3-year-long relationship that had crushed his trust in other people. I would have hated, and disbelieved everything about their feelings for each other if they had jumped into bed instantly or even started dating and sneaking around. There is a little romance – the kind of looks-across-the-room, I-want-you-but-I'm-not-ready need to be close to each other, and a whole lot of wishing for something they think they can't have – but it's not an HEA. Not yet. You can see that it might be, that it has strength and both are willing to put in the work and the effort to make it possible. But, both need to heal first. They're not in a rush to fall in love again. They're not even ready to date, yet. But that's the beauty of it. You know it's there. This relationship is blossoming, even if they're not ready, but they're smart enough to take their time. And that's something I really look forward to watching grow in the next book.

 The plot is intricate. You don't really realise how intricate until the end, but there is a lot of foreshadowing that is cleverly woven into the plotting. So, though it begins slowly and there isn't much paranormal activity or action until maybe 30% of the way in, that's for a reason. There are a lot of characters, and we need time to get to know Quentin, as well as the kind of people he's going to be spending the weekend with. It's especially important, when it comes to learning his history and his motivation for attending the ghost hunt.
 While some writers might have info-dumped that right at the start, Cole is building a series, here. They're not just going to spoon-feed up everything we want to know immediately. The whole book is about building and growing suspense, for the big reveal and the big twist at the end, so that takes time and I appreciate that Cole took that time to really explore the characters, the possibilities, to really delve deep into the complex world they were creating.
 The attention to detail within the paranormal investigation was astoundingly brilliant. It's clear a lot of research when into the ghost hunt and the paranormal team's equipment and methods. It really let me feel immersed in the story, and the hunt for answers.

 When it comes to mistakes? I noticed one editing issue, which was Giles labelled as Miles. That's it. But, that's the kind of attention to detail I expect from Cole, who takes such care in their craft.
 The flashbacks that were included were perfectly separated not only by italics, but also by a slight shift into present tense. This was perfect, to single them out as “different” without trying to dupe the author into one of those “it's real until you discover it's a dream” scenarios.

 In the end, Chasing Ghosts went from a story I expected to be mysterious and scary, to a story that captured my heart and made me eager for the next Quentin Strange mystery. The memory with Amy and that final goodbye were touching; the mystery with Joe made me cry; and the flutter of romance with Will gave me hope. All built together to make me love Quentin's quirks and his subtle charm. I went from not liking Kat to being firmly rooted to her character development, and eager to see her succeed.

 “If you would like to purchase Chasing Ghosts in paperback,” – Well, don't mind if I do. This is one book I'll be reading again, and a series that I'll be following closely, in the future.


 Favourite Quotes

 “'Perhaps it's time you give men another go,' she suggested. 'Life's short, and Prince Charming won't sit around waiting until you're ready. He's out there looking for his prince, too. Let's just hope he has bad eyesight, or an equally awful dress sense in your case.'”

 “Letting me go doesn't change a thing. I'm already gone and yet I'm still here. All you have to do is light your flame again and you'll see that.”
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