SHADOWS PRESENT, SHADOWS PAST by J.H. Sanderson

SHADOWS PRESENT, SHADOWS PAST

A Ghost Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three sisters inherit a haunted house in this tepid ghost tale.

When the Evans sisters learn that an old friend has left them his house in their old hometown, they couldn’t be happier. Colleen is recently divorced, Leila’s husband is away on business most of the year and the youngest, Erin, is finishing college. After moving in they are immediately besieged by strange happenings–footsteps, falling pictures, French doors that inexplicably bang open–but these ghost-story standards aren’t particularly eerie and become tiresome after the sixth or seventh episode. Meanwhile, Colleen has her own ghosts. After high school, she endured a traumatic breakup with the love of her life. Turns out he’s still in town, and the two begin a hesitant reacquaintance. Of course, the ghostly events accelerate, and when a phantom calls Colleen “Elaine,” it leads her to investigate what happened in the house. She finds diaries and letters, and helpful old-timers recall rumors–the previous inhabitants were strange, there was a love triangle, etc.–standard fare. Indeed, the whole production has a well-worn feel, but the author fails to exploit this classic if cliché setup. Colleen is the only sister who remotely resembles a fully developed character, and virtually all minor characters seem inserted as mere devices to remember or discover key parts of the house’s history. Though the prose is smooth enough, the central mystery is muddled and sloppily presented, and the novel’s clumsy architecture completely falls apart in the rushed climax, which is neither credible nor satisfying–especially frustrating since it appears the author has some potential.

A ghost story like a phantom itself–something is there, but it’s not quite realized.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-39873-1
Program: Kirkus Indie
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