- The Paranaturalist by Ki Brightly
The Paranaturalist by Ki BrightlyHot
When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and, Owen realizes, he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is acclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
First off, it was HUGE! Now, 340 pages to me doesn't sound like a long book, but this one literally took me all day to read and a little more on top of that. Sadly, it also felt like a long read, which is part of the reason I removed the last star, because it sagged just a little in places and it made the story drag out far longer than maybe it should have or that felt like a comfortable read. Now, the most similar style of story I've read to this would be the Duncan Andrews Thrillers series by Stephen Osborne. An awesome series that, because it was chopped up into individual adventures that sometimes linked, made it easier to read. I think this book could have used some of that. Maybe divided into two novels of a respectable 170 pages would have made it easier to digest. But, I do get that finding a dividing point would have been hard since I really feel that the last 70% was the part that didn't quite fit in as well as the rest of it.
I don't normally like 1st person, especially present tense, but this one was written so well that I couldn't stop myself from getting attached right from the start.
For now, let's go back to the beginning. Because I fell in love with the story and the characters the minute I read the Prologue. Told in Joe's POV, it shows the beautiful journey of fear, resolve and pain that he travels through while being a child dealing with the sight of supernatural creatures. His bond with Peter was just utterly emotive, saddening and perfect in ways that a short chapter shouldn't be capable of managing.
Then we travel into the future when he's older and searching for proof that his abilities as a child were real. Something which, we later discover, is impossible because the supernatural don't want to be filmed or recorded for Joe's Paranaturalist show.
I loved how Joe's mind was closed to the supernatural world and how it reopened again so suddenly, leaving him disorientated, shocked and unaware of this world lurking just beneath the thin veneer of the one he's always known, and unable to remember the reality of his childhood with clarity. It was handled so well that I worried with him, I feared for his sanity and I loved Owen just as much as Joe came to for the way he so stoically stood by his side and helped him through it all.
There were some editing issue, one instance of mislabelling when Ollie became Olive, and quite a few long or confusing sentences that I had to read more than once just to make sure I knew what was happening. There were also a few times when the dialogue wasn't labelled well enough to follow; I often had to re-read a section to figure out which of the two or three male characters was speaking. This was perhaps because there wasn't a definite division of one character per paragraph; sometimes Joe would be talking and Owen's reaction would be written in the text between his words or the same character would speak for two or three short paragraphs in a row without a clear indication of that. Despite being in 1st person, this happened a few times, especially when the likes of Scott was involved, adding in another 'he' to deal with.
When it comes to the characters, I fell in love with Joe instantly. He's the soft, squishy loveable teddy bear of a man that is a little afraid of himself, scared that he's too podgy, too undisciplined and just plain going crazy, while holding onto the steadfast belief that what happened to him as a child just had to be real. His insecurities make him real and loveable in so many ways.
Similarly, Owen is a little gruffer, more sure of himself and the big, bulky guy with a heart of gold. He's all these things but still sweet, caring, feisty and aware of the dangers. He's the solid rock that Joe clings to when his supernatural world reopens so unexpectedly. He's also a bit of a tease, offering light relief when it's needed and having a super sexy side that offers some pretty intense moments between the two of them.
Then there's Scott. *sigh* Scott is – and there's no delicate way to put this – a total man-wh*re. He just can't keep it in his pants and he's a bit of a waste of space for a lot of the story, not doing anything beyond causing trouble and complicating Joe's already complicated life. But don't go thinking he was useless to the story. He wasn't. He was well utilised and offered a very real human component to contrast with the paranormal situations Joe found himself in. There was always this concern that Scott might thing Joe had gone crazy, after the lights pinged back on in his brain.
When it comes to the characters as a whole, it's easy to rate them because of how well they were written. Each one, even the minor ones, were explored with a depth and attention to detail that was delightful to read (but definitely added to the page count). I loved Owen and Joe the most, no question. I hated and felt sorry for Scott equally, alternating between the two at various points along with Joe. I hated Margot, who gets no love from me whatsoever. Cherry, Kerrie, Wyatt, Duncan, Ollie and the guys from Owen's apartment are fun and add that human element to his side of the story, too. I loved Joe's mother! She was amazing.
As well as the way that the paranormal on/off switch was handled, I loved the way that Owen stood up to Scott right from the beginning, showing Joe a different side to his best friend with the jealousy and the competition between the two that Owen never really engaged in.
The chemistry between Joe and Owen was off the charts! Right from the first time they met. I loved how they sparked, got to know each other, didn't delve too intimately into each other's lives despite their attention and that Joe's need to know his partners kept them at arms length for a while. I did have a slight issue with their first kiss where it felt more like Owen pushed the situation onto Joe when he didn't want it and I found their more intimate sex scenes a little rougher than I'd expected from them both. Nothing too violent, but definite tendencies to fly off into Need. Want. Take. territory. Some parts left me a little uncomfortable, because the build up to their relationship was so sensual and all about the mental, emotional connection and the energy they shared than anything physical.
I really liked that Joe's world of being The Paranaturarlist was explored with multiple scenes of filming, the process and the research involved in the show. Along with Owen watching it on TV, we got to see both of their opinions on the show. How Joe was excited to be out there, searching for proof that he hadn't been crazy as a child and Owen's frustration with just how badly they were F-ing the whole thing up. I loved that contrast and how the author was able to reach a balance between belief and scepticism that wouldn't alienate believers or non-believers within their reading audience.
At the same time, I loved the way that those two worlds clashed, bringing Joe and Owen together in a very normal, human way that wasn't just Owen simply searching out Joe or being introduced to him. It happened organically and, like Owen thought in his POV, like a twist of fate. Not unlike the many other 'fated' incidents that were likely orchestrated by Otto's hand.
The romance was nicely explored, through the beginnings of friendship, through offering support to each other and slowly coming together to help each other cope with things, before eventually becoming more and building into something strong and almost pre-destined. I did find the whole divine-touch aspect of their relationship hard to fathom since their getting together was all orchestrated by Otto in the first place and his part in the story was never really explained. Were they meant to be a couple and that was Otto's plan all along or was that merely an unexpected but delightful consequence of his real plan? It's hard to tell without knowing more about Otto, but it definitely felt like that was something left unexplained and that just felt a little too “planned” for my liking, when everything else had worked out organically.
There were some small editing issues, it was very long and there were frequent dips in my attention when it dragged in placed, but overall this was a fantastic story with a whole lot to love. If it had been cut in two it would have been easier to digest and work through, no doubt, but it still makes a great read and one that I'll revisit in the future. Except, I'll know to put more time aside for it then.
I loved the plot, the way it was slowly digested over time and the casual, comfortable flow from friendship to lovers that Joe and Owen journeyed through. The story had a supernatural edge but it never completely overshadowed the plot and removed the human element. It did, however, cleverly touch upon every aspect of their lives and prove that in small ways that only added to the authenticity of the research and time spent bringing it all together into an intriguing story. Honestly, I'd love to have seen more of Peter and Otto, as they were really only minor characters despite the huge impact they had on both MC's and it would have been nice to spend more time with them.
Due to the minor problems: editing, length and the dips in attention: I had to remove one star, but it doesn't diminish the fact that I loved the story told within the pages. On top of those points, however, I have a few unanswered questions. If you haven't read it yet, DON'T read any further.
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD*
What was Joe's reaction to Owen telling him about his history with Scott?