Friday, April 01, 2011

REVIEW: "Speed Dating With the Dead" by Scott Nicholson

The White Horse Inn. Located in the remote Appalachian Mountains, it's a perfectly spooky setting for a paranormal conference. With a haunted history and an utterly dreary atmosphere, the ghost hunters are in their element. Using their high-tech equipment, they are eager to capture the entities' visages and communications, even willingly offering up their own energy. Wayne "Digger" Wilson is the leader of this group, having dragged his unwilling teenage daughter along on the trip. He's got this whole ghost hunting schtick down pat; he knows exactly how to plan the hunting expeditions to keep his clients entertained. But Digger has an ulterior motive that no one- least of all his daughter- suspects. Digger's true purpose may actually be the catalyst to open up the door for something much scarier than a few lost ghosts....

Scott Nicholson has a gift for creating an action-packed storyline that begs to be read. I found myself enthralled, unwilling to stop turning page after page, late into the night. His writing style is wonderfully engaging, and his characters are brought to life on the page. Kendra is a typical teenager, with her secret thoughts and her outward disdain. Digger is the preoccupied father with bigger things on his mind, and he often forgets what's most important. His motley ghost hunting crew contains several intriguing characters, each with his own distinct personality. But the true stars of this story are the conference attendees. From the self-proclaimed skeptic who is just along to debunk the findings to the medium who channels demons, each character comes to colorful life under the author's pen. For fans of shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "A Haunting," the characters and tricks and tools of the trade in this book will be recognizable. I think the fluid writing and the clever characterization makes this an author to watch.

Starting out fairly tame, yet interesting, this story quickly and unexpectedly evolved into something sinister and dark, and I found myself a little lost at times. Throw Beth into the mix, and I never quite understood the whole angel/demon connection as well as I felt I should. I loved the character of "The Roach," but the way his motives were written were sometimes perplexing. I wasn't always sure upon which side he stood, which isn't necessarily a negative in and of itself, however, I felt like it was meant to be clear. I was eager to find out what would happen in the end, but some elements of this story left me a little muddled along the way. This was very reminiscent of some of Stephen King's better work in that it's spooky and can be gross, and it's not afraid to do the unexpected (yet somehow slightly predictable in that regard). Those can be very good things in a horror story, and it definitely kept my interest the entire way through.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the writing style and the characterization, and I look forward to sampling more of this author's work.

4 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

(I recently reviewed -and enjoyed- one of this author's children's stories)

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