Karl’s debut novel spins a mysterious tale of murder and haunting in a small town in New York state.
Rae Dembrowsky and her husband, Mark, have just moved into a beautiful Victorian house in Akron, New York. The structure, which had been converted to two-family living, is in dire need of renovation to restore it to its former glory. During demolition, Rae begins to feel a strange presence in the house, further aggravated when an old journal falls out of one of the walls. The journal, penned in the 1890s, once belonged to Sinead “Shaney” McCarthy, a first-generation Irish-American teenager who reportedly felt and saw strange things in the house. As Rae reads through the journal entries, she begins to feel closer to the girl and more aware of supernatural happenings in her new home. Shaney’s romantic yearnings, her desire to leave her abusive father, and her strange dreams and visions serve as the meat of the story. Rae, along with her friend Bev, dives into researching the figures in Shaney’s Irish folk tales and songs, the history of sleepy little Akron, and the identity of the spirit (or spirits) that plagues her house and causes her husband to sleepwalk at night. The beginning and the end of this narrative are somewhat abrupt, but it’s an engaging and enjoyable read throughout. It’s more of a cozy ghost mystery than an out-and-out thriller, but Karl does a good job of sprinkling the tale with spooky details. It’s clear that the author has a strong sense of ghost folklore, Irish fairy stories, and the practices surrounding communication with the dead, particularly in the séance scenes. Overall, it’s an excellent tale for readers who love to put together clues and appreciate a brush with the supernatural. The story ends with a setup for a possible sequel.
A well-paced paranormal mystery.