Pros: Fascinating monster
Cons: Too much intuition; too many convenient dreams
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ike Hamill’s Blood Ghost is the sequel to The Hunting Tree–but the ‘Hunting Tree’ of the last book isn’t actually in this one. Davey and his family return to play an important role, but this is as much the story of Don, his sister Chelsea, and the dog Barney. (To a lesser extent, the kids’ father Wes and mother Gwen.)
Don’s friend Kyle recently died of a mysterious wasting illness; his dog Barney went to live with Don. Before long, it seems to affect Don as well. In an effort to save Don, his sister Chelsea starts pushing at him to follow some odd leads involving a kid named David who has prophetic dreams, and a bunch of guys from a trailer park who claim to have some knowledge of this mess. David is 12 years old now, and still having nightmares that warn him of danger–to himself and to others. In addition to the blood-sucking spirit in search of blood, there’s also another entity hiding behind the scenes, and this one is far more dangerous in the long term.
Hamill is good at coming up with new bad guys for his various horror/thriller novels. The succubus is very much not the popular depiction of a physically stunning woman. She simply has powers that turn people to her side and addict them to her. I very much like what he did with her form and personality. The other characters are interesting as well. Don’s sister Chelsea starts out seeming like a total witch, but she improves later in the book, and with good reason.
I kind of wish David either hadn’t been involved at all, or had been more thoroughly involved. His ‘intuition’ has become too convenient. In some places I can buy into it, but in others it feels like he’s being used as an artifact to move the plot along properly. He’s becoming a little too much like the boy in Hamill’s Extinct, and he’s starting to feel like an author’s cheat card.
The pacing worked well, and there were some tense moments, though not as many as I’d have liked. Again, intuitions and nightmares threw things off a bit. I go back and forth on Ike Hamill’s books; this is one of the less-well-done, in my opinion. Instead, go read Madelyn’s Nephew.
SPOILER WARNING “The Master” is the term David’s using for the secondary, more powerful supernatural being. It’s capable of possessing people. When it possesses Barney, it doesn’t actually bite–because doing so would be “so contrary to [Barney’s] nature”. First, it’s very much within a dog’s natural instincts to bite under the wrong circumstances. Also, this implies that Gwen–Don’s mother, and an extremely dedicated oncologist–most definitely had it within her nature to knife someone in the back in an attempt to kill them. That doesn’t match with what we’ve seen of her so far at all. There seems to be a plot hole here. END SPOILERS