I read and reviewed another of Scott's books, The Skull Ring, a while back and liked it. He has written a number of books that appeal to me and I was planning on reading more of his work anyway so I was particularly pleased to be asked to join in his Be Nicholson's Agent promotion. He is recruiting bloggers and readers to spread the word about his books, and in return is giving away 15% of his September e-book earnings. You can find out more on his blog and I'll be posting more in a couple of days. I chose represent Creative Spirit in particular, here is the product description:
"When artists gather at a remote Appalachian estate for a retreat, they are unaware that their energy is feeding something unwholesome. Sculptor Mason Jackson and dying parapsychologist Anna Galloway must uncover the dark secrets of Korban Manor before their spirits are trapped forever.
A modern Gothic thriller
After parapsychologist Anna Galloway is diagnosed with metastatic cancer, she has a recurring dream in which she sees her own ghost. The setting of her dream is the historic Korban Manor, which is now an artist's retreat in the remote Appalachian Mountains. Drawn both by the ghost stories surrounding the manor and her own sense of destiny, Anna signs up for the retreat.
Sculptor Mason Jackson has come to Korban Manor to make a final, all-or-nothing attempt at success before giving up his dreams. When he becomes obsessed with carving Ephram Korban's form out of wood, he questions his motivation but is swept up in a creative frenzy unlike any he has ever known.
Sylva Hartley is an old mountain witchwoman who is connected to Ephram Korban both before and after his death. Her knowledge of Appalachian folk spells and potions has bound her to the manor in a deeper and darker way. Sylva harbors a family secret that refuses to stay slumbering in its grave.
The manor itself has secrets, with fires that blaze constantly in the hearths, portraits of Korban in every room, and deceptive mirrors on the walls. The house's brooding atmosphere affects the creative visions of the visiting artists. A mysterious woman in white calls to Anna from the forest, while Mason is driven by the whispers of an unseen critic. With an October blue moon looming, both the living and the dead learn the true power of their dreams.
It's a power that Korban craves for himself, because he walks a shadowy land where passions burn cold and even the ghosts are haunted. "
This is one creepy book! The atmosphere created is filled with menace and foreboding, and yet the artists on the retreat feel they are being driven by their creative visions, rather than being manipulated by an unseen force. Some of the descriptions of the locale make it sound beautiful, while Korban Manor itself is sinister and oppressive. The author gradually builds the tension and paces it well, gradually reaching a dramatic climax. Along the way there are some twists that came completely out of the left field for me. I have a bit of an interest in the paranormal, especially when it is married with traditional beliefs as it is in this book (and Baby Jane by M Demers, which I have previously reviewed)
I liked Mason, and as his past was revealed got a good feel for why he was so driven. I also enjoyed the relationship between him and Anna, who at first seem very mocking of one another. She is a very interesting character, who seems to have a lot of strength and courage, either in spite of or maybe because of her diagnosis. Having the story told from the viewpoints of several characters works well in this instance. The reader gets details of a range of strange experiences of a number of the guests as well as the perspective of the staff, some of whom have already been "fetched" by Korban and others who are terrified that they will be next. There were a number of characters I felt very drawn to, rather than the usual one or two, which to me suggests very good characterisation on the part of the author. I thought the author's gentle poke at a a certain type of author, or indeed other creatives, was an at times amusing aside.
I was reluctant to put the book down and every time I picked it up I was hoping to find out more about what was happening and why. This is a very good book, that drew me in and put me on edge. I did finish it feeling a little unsure about whether certain things Anna had been told were true or false, but other than that it was a satisfying read. Modern Gothic describes it very well. At present it's a bargain on Amazon, so if it sounds like your kind of book snap up a copy, enjoy and contribute to the sum to be handed around to Nicholson's readers and bloggers.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*