Saturday, May 6, 2017

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers

by Shani Struthers
reviewed from e-reader

A story all too often heard, particularly in the times of the event. It's Christmas Eve, 1958; it is also Cynthia Hart's 31st birthday. It was a time of big movies in colour, and wannabees drawn to the studios like flies to honey. Cynthia is already a huge star, but tonight she will die. How? Why? We'll follow along the search for these answers with the Psychic Surveys group.

The Psychic Surveys group are devoted to helping the dead into the light, but this will be no easy feat. Where most calls come from people who have purchased houses that were built on land where "Britain's most notorious mental asylum" once was, and could very easily have activity terrorizing them, the group attends them all and has very informed, dedicated and sensitive members, usually explaining and helping these spirits into the light, then performing a house-wide cleansing.

The group consists of Ruby, Theo, Ness and Corinna, all with different abilities. They will have a difficult task ahead. They have been called in by a very rattled homeowner, reporting what appeared to be a very angry spirit. Theo, first on the scene, has felt the strong presence herself, strongest in the master bedroom and ballroom. It seems that Cynthia has never passed on although she died many years ago. Somewhere in her last decades she has been led to believe her soul has been taken, hence the probable feeling of loss end of life, and whoever told this information will nullify it and punish the sender.  I will take care of the other errors.  Her estate had been willed to her maid Sally, and subsequently Sally's nephew Alan Kierney moved in, he is the one who called the group.

Of ghost stories, this one is a bit unusual to say the least. She is not willing to leave. Her death was recorded as a heart attack. What from that night could have caused such a thing at the top of her career? She appears to be terrified and no one could convince her otherwise. What is holding her back? The secret will have to come out soon so she can escape.  In the meantime, a ghost dog has been found at the last house barking and disturbing the neighbours, add it to the pile of queries. While checking the neighbourhood, she meets a young man who strangely is reading the same book "Drive Like Hell" seems a fitting book for the circumstances.

Questioning what Ruby did, she is always thrown off, fortunately she doesn't fall back on her usual wording, but explains she is a psychic surveyor. Of course Cash is confused, but she manages to explain her part of the rescues. This, of course, brings questions re a ghost hunter, no, she is not a ghost hunter but a psychic surveyor, there's quite a difference. She is intrigued by him, but wary. Dressed casually, she wondered what he did. "I'm a website designer, freelance." Wow! This is something helpful or so she hopes. She is needing a website for her business but knew very little about such things. Of course this requires a lot of time between them to a) learn about website control and b) teach what would be needed in her particular work. Her training coming mostly from her Gran, they must be sure everything is precise. Cynthia is terrified to leave and spends most of her time hiding, believing in a small compartment in her room. Oh, Cash has a lot to learn, and fast! The next day is going to be a wild one. He is willing to learn though, especially learning from Ruby.

Cynthia appears to be severely traumatized. She is in complete terror about what is ahead for her. Nothing seems to calm her. The group tries very hard to reason with her but for some reason she is sure that someone from her past sold her soul to the Devil. What? Much as they try to soothe her and reassure her, it will take at least one more visit from them. This was a great read, I loved it and could not have imagined the ending, with suspense building up to a crescendo, I really didn't see it coming. Great story-telling! I would happily read more of this series.

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