Life has been far from easy for Harlan Brand. Once his ability to see and communicate with ghosts was discovered, he was abandoned by his parents. He was raised in an institution with other children who had special abilities and, while it wasn’t an ideal childhood, he was protected there. But now Harlan’s an adult and can no longer stay in the one place he feels safe. Armed with a bit of cash and few social skills, he’s tossed into the world to serve as spectral cleanup at crime scenes.
From a partner that hates him to an increasingly dangerous but unknown enemy, Harlan’s life seems close to spiraling out of control. But Charles Moore offers several measure of peace, in the form of helping Harlan to block out his ghosts and by introducing the man to BDSM. As Harlan and Charles begin their relationship, Harlan will have to face an enemy that seems determined to destroy everything Harlan has come to treasure.
Rattling Chains is one of those unusual books, at least for me, where I loved the premised and the first half of the book, but found myself increasingly disconnected during the second half.
Harlan has been through hell in a lot of ways and his sheltered and socially awkward nature make him charming. It was easy to see that he was just trying to get through one day after the next without losing his mind. Charles was a lot harder to appreciate; I never felt as though I knew him and he read very much as a cardboard creation. For as much personality and life as Harlan had, Charles was sorely lacking.
The overall story starts off strong, but eventually gets somewhat bogged down by slower pacing and world building that doesn’t always read as clearly as it should. The first half of the book I found truly engaging and I enjoyed seeing Harlan start to come out of his shell and find his confidence. But then the action slowed and Rattling Chains became overly wordy at times. The crisp clean narrative was more convulsed and didn’t move forward consistently. The world building in Rattling Chains is okay, but there were times I didn’t fully understand the “rules” of what Harlan and others could and couldn’t do or why Charles could offer Harlan what he does. Things just seemed more tangled and snarled than clear by the end of the book.
Rattling Chains has some nice aspects and at least one of the main characters is fairly strong. The premise is intriguing and there’s enough action to keep things moving smoothly for the first half of the book. The pacing slows and the second half wasn’t as enjoyable, but I still believe the overall concept of the book was pretty interesting. I’ll be curious about the rest of the series and if some of the world building issues are eventually resolved.