This book review is provided as part of the A Haunting Blue blog tour, however, the standards and scrutiny applied to this review are no less than those given to any other work presented through the views of The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void, your blog for all things horror!
Certain elements must play together perfectly to make a good ghost story. Subtlety is vital for the effectiveness of the later scares. We have to be given characters with whom we can relate so that we have an emotional investment in the story. A good, interesting back story is essential so that we care about the gradual reveal of the purpose behind the haunting. It is a very hard balance to achieve without giving away things too early or drawing things out too much. R.J. Sullivan achieves the right amount of each piece of his ghost story in Haunting Blue so that by the end of the book your only complaint is that it is over.
Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.
Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing--not even murder--to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.
How do you stretch out the suspense of a ghost story while spending sufficient time introducing characters without boring your audience or losing those who are not willing to go on the ride with you until the “good stuff” starts? RJ Sullivan’s technique is not a new one, but it is one he uses expertly. Sullivan switches between scenes the provide the backstory of the infamous bank robber with the present day scenes of Blue and her newly found friend, Chip. This allows us to experience some faster paced story telling while we actually follow two stories at one time that will eventually collide with each other. In this way, Sullivan manages to provide us enough character development without losing site of the thrilling aspects of the story. Once the real haunting action starts, we are ready to hang on as Sullivan cranks up the speed and sends his roller coaster of a story over the top of its big drop.
Once the two lines of story start to come together and the motivation of the ghost to stop his secrets from being discovered, the real fun begins. You may not feel the adventurous heat of this story being slowly turned up as you go from one page on to the next, but you can rest assured that when the climax comes about you will suddenly realize that you have allowed yourself to be caught in a raging boil of ghost filled action. This subtlety leading up to the point where all is revealed is a much needed part of any ghost story and Sullivan does not fail to please with his skill at blindsiding us with the building suspense. When the body count starts, you will find yourself shocked to see who lives and who dies as well as discovering who was really carrying secrets all along.
Overall, I found RJ Sullivan’s A Haunting Blue to be a fantastic story with all the right elements required of a successful and unforgettable ghost story. Even better is the fact that Sullivan has not abandoned Blue, as he continues to tell her tale in the sequel, Virtual Blue. If you are a fan of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, A Haunting Blue is just the thing to keep yourself up at night.
So let’s take a look at The Rage Circus score!
Story Concept - 4/5
Story Execution - 5/5
Story Flow – 4/5
Character Development (give-a-damn factor) - 5/5
Gripping visuals/details - 5/5
Entertainment Value/Story Engagement – 4.5/5
Editing (including grammar and spelling) – 5/5
Overall – 4.6/5 – DON’T BE HAUNTED BY A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR A GREAT GHOST STORY! READ A HAUNTING BLUE!
About RJ Sullivan: Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes.
R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it. www.rjsullivanfiction.com
Want to catch more of the A Haunting Blue blog tour? Check out the blog schedule at: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/r-j-sullivans-haunting-blue-virtual-tour/