An apparition remains trapped in a house where a tragic crime occurred.
The novel opens with Max, a young boy, asking his tutor, Claire Harvey, to tell him a tale. She spins a moving ghost story about a young girl whose family plans to move far away. Her distraught boyfriend kills her and then himself so they can always be together. The twist is that Claire is that girl, and she’s a spirit stuck in the house where she was murdered. That first chapter could stand alone as a short story, but the rest of the book builds off of that, showing Claire’s afterlife in the house and the various people who reside there, ending with a battle that involves ghost hunters. She feels a special affinity for Max, who falls in love with her. It affects him later in life when he tries to date and then start a family. There is also a backstory about Claire’s confusion when she first woke up and didn’t realize she was a phantom. She thought her family had abandoned her and had to figure out what happened, which provides some sad and intriguing moments. Half the fun of reading ghost stories is in the rules authors create for their universes, and Galindo (The Tesla Project, 2016, etc.) has made his enjoyable and slightly complicated. Only people who believe in ghosts can spot Claire, but she has trouble seeing some of the living souls who don’t believe in spirits. This becomes poignant when a nonbeliever dies and can suddenly spy her, and she watches him move on while she can’t. In this entertaining story, Claire is an appealing character. Galindo has added some superb twists to her world, and the timeline allows him to show her perspective as technology and trends advance. But the novel isn’t faultless. Despite her comments about strange devices, Claire feels more modern in her dialogue and action than she should be—at one point, she craves a hamburger, recalling what it smelled like in real life. But she died in 1899, before the item became popular in America. And one philosophical battle toward the end between Max and a ghost hunter appears suddenly enough that it feels more like a plot device than a natural, story-driven occurrence. Still, none of these quibbles should wreck this tale for fans of the supernatural.
A charming and sometimes frightening ghost story.