I must confess - I love ghost stories. I remember in grade school I loved Halloween and would encourage my friends during our recess and lunch to exchange ghost stories with each other. This usually meant ME telling the story, but hey, who's complaining? So when I was on Reddit.com a month ago, someone was asking the writing community on the site to review their book, which just so happened to be a GHOST story, and I jumped at the chance.
In the book, Nearly Departed, author Max Patrick Schlienger first introduces you to Dr. September, a supernatural consultant of sorts, whose clients mostly consist of lonely women with overactive imaginations. But the facade soon melts away, and instead of finding the good doctor, you find a writer by the name of Dennis, whose consultant work is more of a con in order to make a few extra bucks and get inspiration for his next novel.
But don't turn your nose up on this character just yet, Schlienger creates an engaging and enjoyable character and I almost appreciate Dennis' idea on getting inspired again.
But something else begins to happen. Dennis gets a call from another potential client and this one seems different. For one thing, the woman on the phone sounds completely clear headed and not quite as loopy as the others. Plus, once he agrees to meet with her, Dennis (or Dr. September), just can't shake the feeling he is being watched.
Ignoring that haunting suspicion, Dennis (as Dr. September) arrives at his first meeting with his client only to find a haunted chair and a completely sane elderly woman who claims that it's her sister in that chair. And that creepy feeling of being watched? Well, it hasn't gone away and it's not coming from the ghost that Dennis just discovered.
All of this just scratches the surface on this awesome ghost busting adventure. Schlienger writes with humor while still maintaining the spooky mystery that ghost fanatics, like me, expect. You come across so many wonderful factors in this book, from Dennis' disapproving, but lovable wife, the oddball shop owner that provides Dennis his supplies for each con, the desperate friend, to my most favorite element of them all - its setting in San Francisco. A native himself, Schleinger takes you right into the city itself and I felt like I was there so much so that I longed to go back to my home town roots (I was born in the Bay Area).
If you like a good ghost story, wonderful character development, and a setting so rich you feel like you could step inside, you will want to read Nearly Departed by Max Patrick Schlienger.
Oh, and don't let the first line fool you. It may start with the notorious "It was a dark and stormy night," the novel more than makes up for its quirky beginning. And in reality, considering the characters and personalities in the book, it truly fits.
And I am happy to announce that at this time, Nearly Departed is free on the novel's website (which I also loved the design for, by the way). It's free for all formats, as well, so I encourage all of my readers to download a copy.
A special thank you to Max Patrick Schlienger for providing his novel for free and for introducing me to his writing. I also hope to see Dr. September once again (maybe in a sequel? Hint, hint).