Short Take: “Ashford’s Ghost,” Skyla Dawn Cameron

Rating: 5 out of 5

Skyla Dawn Cameron’s novella Ashford’s Ghost (Livi Talbot) is sort of volume 2.5 in the Livi Talbot series–it’s set after Odin’s Spear and before Emperor’s Tomb. It’s a good idea to read this one in order; it covers some slowly-changing relationship issues and introduces elements regarding the villa Livi and her makeshift family have moved into. (I also have it on good authority that it sets up later events in the series.)

Livi, Pru, and Em have been living in the villa for three months now. To recap, this is the villa from volume one where Livi killed the djinn who had been living there, and the Pulse Threat Investigation folks are willing to let her live there, since she’s going to be working for them. Now Em wakes up in the middle of the night to see a man in her room. Livi checks out the room and finds the temperature fluctuating wildly for no apparent reason. Then she, Em, and Pru all spot a dark figure in the main hallway. Livi calls in Laurel, then, after the master bedroom spontaneously combusts (but the fire just disappears afterward), she calls West as well–and sends Em to stay with her not-quite-father, Denny. Is Ashford haunting the house? He certainly has reason to haunt Livi!

This is a comparatively short adventure for Livi, and Pru’s around for this one. A medium that West knows, Kai Cardosa, joins the hunt for Ashford’s ghost, and Laurel and West disclose that there are secret rooms and passages throughout the house–and it’s possible they don’t know about all of them. There’s plenty of interesting character interaction, and of course the relationship between Livi and West is, as always, one step forward, 7/8ths of a step back. This is an entirely engaging story–just on a quicker and smaller scope than the previous two. Highly recommended!

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