THE GHOST CHRONICLESFeatured
***FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards***
***Named one of the best books of 2016 by IPPY Magazine***
***Awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion***
***Awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval***
Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go? Michael Andrews had everything - a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he's a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he's stuck. All he wants is to move on. That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be. To make matters worse, there's also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the "joining" of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don't know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another. Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he's being pursued. Demons are after him because he's a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason. So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn't such a good idea. Inspired by the legend of a haunting at the Angel of the Sea in Cape May, NJ, The Ghost Chronicles is a YA paranormal with adult crossover appeal, perfect for fans of If I Stay and the movie Ghost.
What I loved: I really loved the history in the book. It is evident that the author did tons of research for this novel. The history of the Angel of the Sea is totally fascinating. I love when a novel takes place in a real location, especially one as fascinating as the Angel of the Sea. It’s absolutely amazing that the building has been moved twice and had to be split in half because the movers couldn’t push it back together with only mules and horses.
By far my favorite part of ‘The Ghost Chronicles’ is the part about the Eastern State Penitentiary. I had never heard of it before and the details blew me away. That it sits enclosed by walls in the middle of such a large city is crazy. When looking at a photo from the prison website you can see Philly’s skyscrapers in the background. Some of the awful things that happened there and its current state of decay just adds to the creepiness.
What Left Me Wanting More: I really had a hard time connecting with Michael and his family. I didn’t really get a good sense of who they were and what they were like. Their personalities were a little flat to me. Sarah was my favorite character by far. She was a little more interesting and seemed to have more personality and depth.
Also, expect for the historical locations Michael visited, there isn’t a lot going on in the story. There is a lot of Michael walking around and wondering what is going on. There is also a lot of rules and forms of travel in the afterlife that muddied up the story. I was expecting a spooky and creepy story about ghosts and it’s just not what this story is.
My final judgement: I love the historical background in ‘The Ghost Chronicles’ and plan on visiting The Angel of the Sea and Eastern State Penitentiary some day. Although the story isn’t exactly what I was expecting, it has a unique storyline that will appeal to paranormal lovers that like a contemporary twist.
That’s one of the big questions for Michael throughout this book: “Why me?” The first few chapters are really pretty sad. He hangs around his funeral and watches his family and friends fall apart, and his death seems unjust and meaningless to everyone. And…he’s clearly become a ghost. He didn’t move on and didn’t see any bright light or angels. As is plain from the title, this book is about being a ghost, and I was intrigued as to how an author would pull this off from the start. What now? How much is there to the world of ghostliness?
Well, plenty! And Marlo Berliner brings this strange dead world to life in a beautiful way. Michael’s new state of existence is gradually described as he figures things out on his own. “Hey, my ghost body feels solid to me.” “Wow, I can sort of fly. But I prefer to walk.” “Hhmmm…Where are all the other ghosts?” These aren’t actual quotes from the book, simply the kind of thoughts I think anyone would have upon finding out they’re dead and didn’t move on. The experience is believable and realistic, more akin to a coming of age story than a fantastical one. The plot thickens as Michael meets other ghosts, falls in love again, and begins to understand that his soul is in some way very important to the Devil. Yes, there are demons and even vampires mixed in.
What I liked best about this otherworldly tale is the natural, wordly way it’s written. We feel Michael’s pain and desire to find answers, in the midst of a story that could fit somewhere between the supernatural and religious sections in a book store. My one complaint would be his interaction with quite a few famous ghosts, because the story of "everyman" struggling with the age old questions of life and death gets a bit lost there. I do like Berliner’s spin on some historical events, however. The love story at the Angel of the Sea is loaded with picturesque scenes from a blockbuster romance, and Halloween night in Salem is great!
I would recommend this book to readers who question existence beyond the realm of the living, from middle school to middle-aged. Adult themes like sex, violence, and good vs. evil are handled respectfully, and the vivid characters come to life in the afterlife. Berliner has crafted a fascinating world, with layers of history and mythology intertwined, and this book is just the beginning of what promises to be an epic series.