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The Curse of Jacob Tracy

(Jacob Tracy #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  546 ratings  ·  108 reviews
St. Louis in 1880 is full of ghosts—mangled soldiers, tortured slaves, the innocent victims of war—and Jacob Tracy can see them all. Ever since Antietam, when he lay delirious among the dead and dying, Trace has been haunted by the country's restless spirits. The curse cost him his family, his calling to the church, and damn near his sanity.

He stays out of ghost-populated
ebook, 336 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books
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♥ Sandi ❣
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to ♥ Sandi ❣ by: saw it in the library
I enjoyed this book, however it is not my normal cup of tea. This is a novel debut for this author - a new author for me. Her writing style is good, she has a good mastery of words, and among the twist and tuns in this book ended up with a pretty solid plot. I will definitely read her in the future.

This book had just a bit too much of a shape shifter and werewolf theme to it. The historical fiction part was very good - and kept me reading - but the unexpected fantasy portion was not what I had
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great supernatural fantasy Western. Lots of action and well-developed characters. Very entertaining and highly recommended.
For a relatively short book (just over 300 pages), The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger is full of action, ghosts, demons, and other supernatural baddies. I thoroughly enjoyed it (damn it), so I guess I’m sucked into following the series.

Jacob Tracy is a sort of cowboy/jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. He was training to be a priest, but left the seminary to join the Confederate War. When he was wounded in Antietam, he began seeing spirits. Even though it’s been eighteen years and Tracy ha
Lisa Mandina
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to thank one of my fellow teachers for passing this ARC on to me a month or so ago. The author is a friend of one of our art teachers, and I'm actually going to get to meet her when she comes to talk to the students at our school in December. When the art teacher first told me about the book, I went and looked it up on Goodreads, and was immediately intrigued. The story sounded really good. And I loved that part of it was going to be set in Missouri, even if it is on the other side of the ...more
Robert Dunn
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The proverbial book that makes you want more. Kind of a weird west fantasy with shifters, ghosts, and walking the shadow lands. The wonderful cover made me look and the story had me early with character more than plot. I like these people and want them to succeed, I want the evil stopped, and most of all I want more. Thankfully I'm pretty sure there will be more. This is the perfect start to a series.
Lauren Stoolfire
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I need more western fantasy novels in my life. I didn't realize quite how much I needed a book like The Curse of Jacob Tracy (Jacob Tracy #1) by Holly Messinger. It is incredibly entertaining and has a great set of characters with just the perfect dash of horror. I wouldn't mind seeing this adapted as a tv series actually. I can't wait to read book two, Curious Weather which was just released at the end of 2019.
Chris Bauer
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Curse of Jacob Tracy" is a weird Western unlike any I've ever read before. Messinger does an exemplary job of creating a completely unique and original world, populates it with conflicted and complex characters and sets the blender to max. The result is a highly entertaining novel. I was in particular impressed by the overall narrative structure. While it is a novel, the format uses a nifty sort of "serialization" framing device such that each chapter almost reads like a self-contained shor ...more
I'm not sure where I land on this book. There were a lot of things I liked about it, and a lot of things that didn't exactly work for me.

What I liked:

*I don't see a lot of horror written in a western setting. I liked seeing old St. Louis and frontier Wyoming and the changing landscape after the railways were built. The world in this book is one where wagon trains were still heading west, even as some settlers were taking trains to their destinations and buying supplies on arrival. The modern wor
Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.

The Curse of Jacob Tracy is the first in a new series, featuring a former seminary student/soldier.

Death constantly lives in the shadow of Jacob Tracy. After surviving the Civil War, Trace discovered that he could see ghosts; this was not a gift that he wanted and each time he tells someone about this gift they die. So, when Miss Sabine Fairweather asks for his assistance and claims to be able to help Trace with his gift, Trace is understandably wary.

Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Good enough to know I want to keep reading, love the relationships between the sidekick and the woman. Forgive me, as it's been several days since I finished this. I don't remember names but do remember that I enjoyed the heck out of it.
Maggie Walsh
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been mulling over several aspects of this book as I was reading it and in the 24 hours since I finished. First, I have come to the conclusion that Jacob Tracy fits Greg Rucka's idea of a detective that he outlined in an essay that appeared his Stumptown comic.

Jacob Tracy lives at boundaries: not only between the natural and supernatural worlds, but also different layers of society and city vs untamed lands. At the beginning of the book, he is more comfortable in the wilds because there he c
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-16
This one is very close to five stars for sheer enjoyment. It's fun, well-written, and clever.

The episodic structure makes for some repetitious moments, and a couple of character reveals in the last episode seemed inadequately foreshadowed, or just confusing. The biggest problem is that Jacob's last adventure (in this volume, at least) just isn't his best one.

Still, a new author added to my must-read list.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is what you'd get if you mashed up the movies Constantine and The Exorcist but set it in the American west circa 1880. I guess that makes it a paranormal western? I'm not quite sure but I found it to be a pretty entertaining story, featuring a 38 year old former-seminary-student-turned-cowboy/ranch hand - Jacob Tracy (aka Trace) and his best friend, a former slave, John Bosley (aka Boz). Since narrowly cheating death after being wounded in the Civil War, Trace has found himself saddled ...more
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
So much going on here, all good! I just wish that the author had written more about Trace (as he's known to his friends and colleagues). As far as I can tell, there's only a novella about Trace & Boz, set before the events of this novel.

I learned about this book thanks to a webinar called "Crash Course in Horror". It was put together by the great folks at Novelist and LibraryReads, and if you've never watched one of their webinars, I highly recommend them. You can find them on Youtube, and they
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've learned in the past year that I really like weird westerns. So I was thrilled to see this in my local library. I was even more thrilled once I started reading it. This is a great book with well fleshed out characters and a super intriguing plot. I love the friendship between Trace and Boz. At least in my experience, it's not often you see two men care so much for each other, especially in a western setting. I was also very intrigued by the mysterious draw of Fairweather. I guess Trace and I ...more
Angela Castille
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel reminded me of a show I loved as a kid, "The Wild, Wild West", if it had included ghosts. I enjoyed the pacing and the way the sections were set up to be episodic.
Amy "the book-bat"
A very strange novel. It is a mix of paranormal and western.
Raechel Henderson
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The juxtaposition of gothic and western in this novel is a treat. This is a great first peak at a larger world full of menace and magic. The historical setting keeps it grounded. I look forward to more adventures of Jacob and Boz.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I stumbled across this book knowing nothing of Holly Messinger nor the Tracy Jacob series. Well, I would like to thank my elibrary for suggesting it! A western w a priest turned demon gunslinger, a loyal friend who won't put up with his buddy's bullshit, werewolf thingies, demons, a strange sort of witch, and a Frenchman. Oh and blood, there has to be blood! What more could I want??

I actually looked up Holly Messinger's profile before reading The Curse of Jacob Tracy to learn about her and mayb
Christopher Gerrib
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I met the author at a Kansas City science fiction convention, where she read a short story with the main characters of the book in it. I found the reading fascinating, and decided to order the book. I'm glad I did.

This is essentially an origin story. Jacob Tracy's curse is that he sees dead people, which bothers him because only devils should be able to do that. However, there are other people who are either manipulating the dead or other spirits to cause mayhem, and Jacob finds himself getting
Selina Kyle
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I live out where the Old West was, and somehow I've never been all that interested in the history. Or in Western novels. Or Western movies. Unless it's My Name is Nobody.

Seriously if you see one Western movie, go Spaghetti and watch that one. And if you read only one Western supernatural action novel, read about Jacob Tracy.

Jacob is a "true grit" sort of character with unexpected elements in his personality. Yes, even more unexpected than being a medium. He tried to be a preacher for a while...
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jacob Tracy has been hiding his light under a bushel for eighteen years. Ever since he was nearly killed at the Battle of Antietam, he can see ghosts and demons and feel with things aren’t right. But every time he tells someone about his curse, they die within a month. So, Tracy keeps his mouth shut and does his best to ignore the uncanny things that are going on around him. The Curse of Jacob Tracy, by Holly Messinger, begins in the spring of 1880, when Jacob and his partner, Boz, take a job fo ...more
Kim McGee
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hell on Wheels meets Stephen King! Post Civil War and Jacob Tracy and his friend Boz are making ends meet. It is particularly difficult for Jacob Tracy due to his curse of the ability to see ghosts and just trying to stay out of their way is tough. When a wealthy single woman hires him to go get something he should have heard the warning bells but he is sucked in to a scary world of demons, werewolves and other bloodthirsty creatures that he had been trying to avoid since leaving the seminary. W ...more
Corrigan Vaughan
Feb 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book uses all the problematic language of the era in which it's placed without actually reading like it's in the voice of that time. I could get past phrases like, "Her Chinese stood in the corner," if I felt like the book was written from the perspective of someone in that time period, but Messinger doesn't put enough effort into selling it. With the exception of some antiquated words and phrases that required googling, the narrative wouldn't have read all that differently if the story too ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. It's urban fantasy but sent in the late 1800's instead of today. Jacob Tracy and his friend, Boz are cowboys who work ranches and lead settlers on their way west. They run into vampires, demons, werewolves while also dealing with Tracy's strange powers. Tracy is a great main character and I really love him, but I admit I'm really looking forward to how his best friend, Boz, is developed. It's nice to see a "sidekick" who is just as tough and capable (maybe more) as the main ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is so far out of my comfort zone that I have nothing to compare it to, but regardless of genre, I recognize a well written story. Actually, Ms. Messinger may have created a new genre - Western Horror? Cowboy sci-fi? Stephen King meets Zane Gray?

Whatever you call it, it's fast-paced, well-plotted, and bizarre, in the best sense of the word.

Volume 2 of the trilogy comes out in December and it has already been optioned for TV. Move over Edward Cullen, there's a new hearthrob in the worl
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I hate reading a book that turns out to be the first in a series, I always feel tricked if it isn't marketed as a series, and here, it happened again.

A psychic cowboy--sounded so TOTALLY awesome!! I can overlook some annoying problems that could have been solved in a 30 second dialogue, and some very stupid things done by a supposedly brilliant person. But I can't keep reading about demons and possessions and evil attacking 99% of the population. It turned too Stephen King for me.

If you think St
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled across this book at a convention in Kansas City. I read the description and it intrigued me. I bought both this and the "prequel" story. After reading The Romance of Certain Old Bones, I knew I had to set aside a whole day for Jacob Tracy. It definitely exceeded my expectations. Holly weaves quite the story, with some obvious and some not so obvious twists. A combination of old time western, detective novel, fantasy, and romance. I couldn't put it down until I finished it, and now I'm ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more in the series. Jacob Tracy ("Trace") has the curse/gift of sight beyond his body into the spirit world, the effect of life-threatening injury suffered in the Civil War. This story is the beginning of his journey on the spirit path where he encounters all kinds of fantastical and deadly creatures - and never quite knows whom he can trust. The ending surprised me but works quite well, leaving me waiting for more.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great combination of wild west and paranormal. It tends more towards the flavor of old fashioned ghost stories and very little of modern supernatural horror. Composed of five stories showing Jacob Tracy getting drawn in to the ghostly world that he spent years rejecting, with a linking theme of Jacob dealing with how this always ends up hurting the people around him.
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Holly Messinger is a writer, costumer, and martial artist with a fetish for the late 19th century. She comes from three generations of printers and has more than 20 years experience in printing and publishing, in addition to brief stints as a land title researcher, a liquor store clerk, an insurance agent, and a costume designer.

She has been known to teach parasol self-defense in a corset and pet

Other books in the series

Jacob Tracy (3 books)
  • The Romance of Certain Old Bones (Jacob Tracy #0.5)
  • Curious Weather (Jacob Tracy #2)

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