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Paranormal Investigator Aileen Whitney hated her job. Writing about alleged paranormal phenomena is an embarrassing career choice when you don’t believe in ghosts, and although Aileen makes an effort to keep an open mind, there always seems to be an alternative, rational explanation. Then one day, while visiting a “haunted” bridge near the historic Rose Wood Plantation, Aileen is caught in a storm and struck by lightning. Since that night, she’s been having strange dreams and suddenly smelling roses. Aileen, former paranormal skeptic extraordinaire, believes she is being haunted by a disturbingly persistent ghost. Aileen has a mystery to solve, a career to salvage, and a worldview to re-evaluate, all while managing to stay alive, because Rose Wood Plantation has seen more than its fair share of deaths.
In Rose Wood, the suspense kicks off immediately, and it doesn’t let you go. The book is definitely plot- and character-driven rather than action-packed, so to speak, but the undertone of creepy mystery never really abates throughout. As in any good suspense novel, there is a steady trail of clues as the mystery unwinds and several twists cleverly designed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Sometimes, I have a real problem with ghost stories. It’s rare, in my experience, that authors can master the creepy/ sad balance that I really want when it comes to ghosts. This book satisfied. The focus of the ghost presence in the plot was less about the dead girl than about the way her death impacted her surviving family. While there’s a necessary pervasive creepiness, there is also an innocence and playfulness at times when the dead girl’s personality comes through to Aileen. There’s a sadness and acceptance of the life lost and the lives subsequently broken. The whole element is addressed with a delicacy and deftness that allows it to feel almost natural, blending perfectly with the other story elements.
There is zero doubt in my mind that Rose Wood deserves 4 out of 4 stars. I almost wish I could give it 5. As I was reading, I kept trying to remind myself that I had a project to finish that I should be working on. But “just one more chapter” turned into two, and then “to the end of part two”, and before I knew it, I had finished the book and will have to stay up late. Totally worth it. After all, who needs a full night’s sleep when you could be reading a good book?
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