Nenia Campbell's Reviews > Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend

Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend by Victoria Laurie
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Mar 06, 14

Read on January 17, 2012

All boarding schools have their fair share of secrets but Northelm takes the cake. A sinister phantom named Hatchet Jack haunts the premises, terrorizing the students and chasing after them with a giant axe and crazy eyes... But nobody recognizes the names, and the students he allegedly killed seem to have come out of nowhere. Definitely creepy. M.J. Holliday is called on the scene to take care of business before the renovations start, but she might not have enough time. The dean is oddly opposed to her involvement in the cold cases, and the old-times are reluctant to talk about it. Plus, the spirit's history is so thorny and tangled that the phrase "die trying" might just be a little too literal.

This book was much better than the prequel. I liked that Ms. Laurie toned down the jokes about Steven's bungling of the English language. Before, it was obnoxious, but now, in moderation, it was cute and added just the right amount of humor when things got too dark. I also feel that the plot was more complex, and it wasn't quite as obvious "whodunnit" as it was in the previous book. I know I was surprised!

I don't really believe in ghost-busters and psychics, but it's definitely easier to suspend your disbelief about than vampires and werewolves. I made the mistake of reading this last night and oh my God, I will NOT be making that mistake again! I haven't been that freaked out since I watched Paranormal Activity... At the same time, I liked the fact that Demons wasn't one of those bloody shock-factor thriller. It was definitely a mystery of the cozier variety.

What I liked about this book:
Characterization (☆☆☆☆): The characters were really well done. No cardboard cut-outs for this author! The characters were flawed and had their own agendas. She didn't make the mentally disabled guy TOO stereotypical; in fact, he was rather believable (I just read a romance novel that had, perhaps, THE WORST depiction of someone who is mentally disabled and, being a psychology major, it sickened me).

Plot (☆☆☆☆): Talk about tense! This is a mystery in the classical sense. Hunting for clues, interviewing people, getting their side of the story. I love mysteries enmeshed in small town history. I think it's because I grew up on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and they all revolved around the theme of "Shh! Family secrets!" Family secrets, indeed. But that, my friends, would be telling.

Romance (☆☆☆): M.J. and Steven are so cute together! He really is quite like a plate (as Steven would say, haha. You know, "dishy?"). I liked that their interactions fit neatly within the confines of the plot and that Ms. Laurie (and subsequently M.J.) did not get carried away with any crazy stuff. I hope they end up together. :)

What I didn't like about this book:
The psychic agenda and the science bashing (☆☆): I read somewhere that this author is actually a practicing psychic? Or was? I'm not sure if that's true or not, because I can't remember the source, but it makes me a little uncomfortable that the author tries to portray this ghost-busting as an actual science. Especially since the main character really is quite nasty about people who are focused on science and ignore the supernatural. She says people are dumb because they separate "intuition" from "the sixth sense." Um, excuse me, but intuition is different from ESP. I realize that characters aren't necessarily the mouthpiece for the author's views but I'm going to get on my soap box here as a psychology major and clarify the difference.

From what I have learned in my classes as a psychology student, intuition may be the result of subconscious information crossing the individual's awareness threshold. So, let's say that you encounter a man at a bar and he seems friendly but something about him puts you off. Let's say that you also used to date a man (or woman) who was a bit crazy, and every time she got violent she had this weird tic right above her eye. Now, consciously, you don't recognize that this man you meet has just such a tic, but you do know that you get a bad feeling from him so when he asks you out, you turn him down. Your friend does not share your reservations and the next day she calls you frantically from her phone saying that he's had too much to drink and gotten violent and can you PLEASE get her out of there? What looks like divine intervention is really just a neural network of self-preservation.

But if you suspend you disbelief and take this book for its surface value: a good paranormal investigative mystery with a dash of romance, it really is a smashing good read and you should definitely give it a try, especially if you're a fan of Miss Marple-like small town drama.
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