Pros: Interesting world
Cons: Flat, stilted, wooden, and meandering
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Quinn has come to our world from a parallel one—one in which the world is broken into scattered, warring cities and what little technology exists is run by slaves with psychic ability, not electricity. She came to protect her pregnant friend, Zarah, leaving her in the care of a family of werewolves, the Marshalls. She encounters the ghost of one of the Marshall men in the woods—Caleb, who’s been dead since the 30s, killed by another werewolf in a challenge. She and Caleb are immediately drawn to each other, but she fears he could be a danger to the Marshalls, perhaps seeking revenge for his death.
When two strangers enter Caleb’s woods and bury a man alive, the man’s ghost tells Caleb to take his body even as he’s leaving it. Caleb has a new chance at life with Quinn, but there’s so much standing in his way. He’s no longer a werewolf. He still wants his revenge. The body is rejecting his soul. And the dead man whose body it once was had a mission that Caleb must complete—to save thousands of lives from an insane militia man.
Ghost Moon is the latest in a series by Rebecca York, with six well-received previous works. This one is the first in the series that I’ve read, so unfortunately I can’t compare it to the others. I’m stressing this because to be honest, I didn’t much like Ghost Moon—and since I haven’t read its predecessors, I can’t tell you if it’s worse in quality than them, or if this is simply a series that doesn’t suit my tastes. So, instead, I’m going to try to explain as well as possible all the reasons why I couldn’t enjoy this one, and you can figure out how that relates to your own preferences.
York’s writing style has an extremely staccato feel to it. It’s almost entirely composed of very short, declarative sentences, particularly in the case of dialogue. This gives it a flat, stilted feel. I felt as though instead of reading a book, I was watching several wooden actors do an emotionless, uninflected line-reading from a movie script. Partially due to this, and partially due to other aspects of the writing style, most of the characters (particularly Quinn, which is unfortunate since she was the primary point of view character) came across as being very unemotional. For a novel that’s supposed to fit into the genres of romance, erotica, and thriller, a lack of emotion is the dead-last thing you want to convey. I often felt, particularly early on, that characters chose their actions relatively randomly, making assumptions or taking on feelings that were simply convenient to the course of action the author desired.
York puts nearly every last detail of every last moment onto the page. Normally when you’re going through a scene there are things that are detailed, things that are summed up, and things that are skipped altogether—this is what the author uses to control the pacing of the story. This speeds things up when the reader is supposed to feel tense, and slows things down when the reader should be luxuriating in other emotions. Unfortunately, York keeps up nearly the exact same plodding ultra-detailed pace throughout the entire book, further robbing it of those emotions. Even during what should be climactic portions of the book, characters from our world are stopping to detail every last modern convenience to Caleb, rather than doing some of the explaining off-screen.
If that wasn’t enough, the bad guy is one-dimensional in nature. The use of a terrorist-related plot feels like a transparent desire to play on current fears, with little other reason for that particular choice. It hardly even enters into the story in the first half of the book, resulting in a very meandering and random feel to things, as though there’s no plot to drive things forward. When it does finally matter, again it feels almost entirely flat and one-dimensional, present as a plot device to affect the other characters rather than as a plot meant to be cared about in its own right.
Then there’s Quinn & Caleb’s relationship (usual warning: explicit sex; adults only). The two of them don’t have a lot of chemistry, and most of the chemistry they do share is used up early on in the book. A scene that I think was supposed to be one of the climactic love-making scenes between them comes across as stilted, forced, and ridiculous rather than sexy or erotic. Ultimately, the relationship material made me shrug rather than tear up or root for the relationship to work out.
I hope someone can tell me whether Ghost Moon is unusual in these traits, or whether this is just a style of York’s that apparently quite a few people like, since her other books have done well. Because this book certainly doesn’t make me want to read her others. On the other hand, the overwhelming impression I got from it was the feel of an author who just wasn’t getting into the material she was writing. So maybe her other books are much better and this one just didn’t inspire her. Any clue?