It’s October, and the perfect time for a story about ghosts, spirits, and things that go bump in the night! So turn off the lights, grab your favorite candy and settle back for a story about lost loves, haunted asylums, and all the romance a team of all-gay ghosthunters can bring you!
Blaine Franks is a bit of a freak. Not only is he handsome, with long blonde hair and a willowy build, he, unlike the rest of us, can see ghosts. He and his team, “The Supers,” explore haunted areas and try to catch reluctant spirits on camera in the hopes of striking it big and launching their own television series. When their techie ends up moving away, the gang looks for a new member, and finds it in Flynn Huntington.
Flynn is gorgeous, which Blaine notices right away. Not only is he charming, earnest, and obviously into Blaine… he’s also a bit of a sensitive, himself. He claims the ghost of his mother — lost in a car accident when he was a child — visits him often. Flynn is also a bit ghost-mad, eager to believe in the spirit world and delighted in the chance to work with like-minded individuals.
When Blaine and Flynn touch, sparks fly. And not just the romantic kind! The ghostly presence in Eugene Thurston Memorial Hospital, an abandoned and decrepit place where a gunman had taken the lives of several nurses, doctors and patients while looking for his wife, amps up the mojo when the two of them are in the room together. Soon it’s more than just cold spots. It’s voices, touches, and even possession!
The longer they’re in the hospital, the more something seems to call to Blaine. Room 403! Rom 403! A room that has an evil, oily presence, a room Blaine wants nothing to do with. But the voice only gets louder and more demanding, and soon it isn’t only Blaine hearing the ghostly echoes. It’s Flynn, Jason, Darnell and the rest of the group.
The voice demands to be heard: Room 403! How long can Blaine run away from his calling? How much longer will the ghosts have to wait? How much longer before the ghosts get tired of merely asking?
I love horror movies. From slow burns, to jump scares, to ghosts, goblins, witches and serial killers. Cheesy or classic, masterpieces or mediocre, I’ll watch them all! I also love horror books, so this story seemed like the perfect October read.
There is a found film, ghost hunting, trapped in a haunted asylum feel to the early parts of the book that linger into the first scene in the hospital emergency room. And then it just fizzles out. There’s no real build of tension, no purpose to the shooter or the ghostly nurses who try again and again to take Blaine’s pulse — though that first scene was well written.
Instead the story drops the horror pretense and goes for gothic, turning into a story of wronged lovers. And then turns that into a reincarnation, cursed lovers, vengeance ghost story that then… vanishes, like spirits in sunlight.
The story fails, for me, though it isn’t terribly written. It just doesn’t know what sort of ghost story it is. It tries on several hats, but they all fall off in order for the main characters to have their romantic resolution. But, even that doesn’t work. The spirit in 403 demands vengeance so badly, so pointedly, so violently, I expected a dramatic climax to their story. Something with gusto, if not gore. Instead, it… ended. Poof.
I should mention the characters, but in truth there isn’t really much to say. If you had replaced Blaine’s name with Darnell, or Jacob with Flynn, I wouldn’t have noticed any difference. The characters were all the same, spoke with the same voice, had mild reactions for the most part, and forced overreaction in others.
Blaine and Flynn had a lust at first sight meeting, which is all well and good, but the romance for me felt both bland and unpleasant. Why did Flynn always initiate sex when Blaine was tired or exhausted or returning from the hospital? It felt a little off for me, and not in the horror story way.
The one good scene involved a bite. And a bug. (I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t go into more detail than that.) It almost worked — did, briefly, work — but the author kept on and on and on about it. Flynn had to talk it to death again and again with anyone who would listen, which turned it from a creepy moment to a “not this again” moment.
This is a pass for me. Which is a shame because I went into it so wanting to enjoy it . The writing isn’t bad, it’s just the story and the characters, so if I ever come across another book by this author again, I’d be happy to give Sean Michael another chance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.