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Spectral City #1

The Spectral City

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Solving crime isn’t only for the living.
In turn-of-the century New York City, the police have an off-the-books spiritual go-to when it comes to solving puzzling corporeal crimes . . .
Her name is Eve Whitby, gifted medium and spearhead of The Ghost Precinct. When most women are traveling in a gilded society that promises only well-appointed marriage, the confident nineteen-year-old Eve navigates a social circle that carries a different kind of chill. Working with the diligent but skeptical Lieutenant Horowitz, as well as a group of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts, Eve holds her own against detractors and threats to solve New York’s most disturbing crimes as only a medium of her ability can.
But as accustomed as Eve is to ghastly crimes and all matters of the uncanny, even she is unsettled by her department’s latest mystery. Her ghostly conduits are starting to disappear one by one as though snatched away by some evil force determined to upset the balance between two realms, and most important—destroy the Ghost Precinct forever. Now Eve must brave the darkness to find the vanished souls. She has no choice. It’s her job to make sure no one is ever left for dead.

236 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 27, 2018

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About the author

Leanna Renee Hieber

50 books1,045 followers
Author, actress, artist and playwright, Leanna received a BFA in Theatre, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London. She adapted 19th Century literature for the stage and her one-act plays have been produced around the country. She is a 4 time Prism Award winner for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy, or Paranormal Romance. Her debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in the "Strangely Beautiful" saga of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels (Barnes & Noble Bestseller) won two 2010 Prism Awards (Best Fantasy, Best First Book) has been hailed by Tor Books as a "foundation work of Gaslamp Fantasy" and has been reissued in new, revised editions as STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL. The prequel, PERILOUS PROPHECY and the never before published MISS VIOLET AND THE GREAT WAR finish the quartet (Tor Books). DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul was named an Indie Next title by the American Book Association and a Scholastic book fair "Highly Recommended" title. All books in the Magic Most Foul trilogy are now available as is THE ETERNA FILES trilogy of Gaslamp Fantasy novels (Tor Books). Her new series with Kensington's new Rebel Base imprint, THE SPECTRAL CITY, a Gaslamp Fantasy / Supernatural Suspense became a # 1 Amazon bestseller in Gaslamp Fantasy, Steampunk and Metaphysical Fantasy as well as hitting the top ten across other platforms. The series continues with three novels. Her short fiction has been included in anthologies such as QUEEN VICTORIA'S BOOK OF SPELLS and the MAMMOTH BOOK OF GASLAMP ROMANCE. All her Victorian-set series feature crossover characters. A member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers, she is a proud co-founder of Lady Jane's Salon Reading Series in New York City. A member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, Leanna works often in film and television on shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mysteries at the Museum, works as a ghost tour guide for Boroughs of the Dead tour company and creates unique neo-Victorian and Steampunk jewelry on Etsy. In 2018 Leanna wrote, developed and now tours a one woman show "By the Light of Tiffany: A Meeting with Clara Driscoll" about the talented 19th century artist. Visit http://leannareneehieber.com for free reads, writers' resources, interviews, videos and more, and follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/leannarenee and FB http://facebook.com/lrhieber.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,037 reviews1,499 followers
November 28, 2018
The Spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber is the first book in the new series by the same name. This one is perhaps one of those books that may be easier to tell what it is than what it isn’t being a bit of book soup. First you take a bit of historical fiction, set in 1899, and mix it with the paranormal, ghosts, bringing fantasy to the story then let those ghosts help solve some mysteries and perhaps even add a dash of romance.

What we also have with The Spectral City is this is sort of a spin off of some of the author’s other work but she assures readers it’s fine to be read as a standalone. Eve Whitby who is the nineteen year old medium and star of this story is the daughter of Natalie Stewart-Whitby and Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury, the stars of the Magic Most Foul series.

In this series Eve works as a medium and can communicate with ghosts. Eve is a part of The Ghost Precinct in which ladies like herself use their gifts to help solve different mysteries even working with the police to solve cases. Eve teams up with the skeptical Lieutenant Horowitz to help with his case all the while trying to figure out what is happening with the ghosts around The Ghost Precinct.

The opener of this series certainly started off as a slow burn read so that did not gets things off to the best start for someone like myself that prefers a faster pace. However, things do pick up a bit later on in the story but dare I say it can also get a tad confusing with a lot going on there too. I would also warn that the end is a bit up in the air being the first of a series to carry over into the next read. So when adding all these things together I decided to rate this first book at three stars in the end, it’s a nice enough start but hopefully will improve in book two.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,217 reviews164 followers
April 9, 2020

For all instances, a good mystery set in late 19th century New York and featuring a supernatural police department staffed by women. What’s not to like? Well, in theory I should have loved this, but I didn’t. I enjoyed it but had to fight with the narration at certain times, especially at the beginning. Still, feisty women characters, alive and dead, kept me interested :O)

N.B. This felt like the first part of a longer story. The more pressing element is dealt with but not the rest.
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
846 reviews438 followers
November 17, 2019
How I read this: Free ebook copy received from publisher

It looks as if I’m in love with a new urban mystery series!!! I tend to be quite picky about my urban mysteries, but this series checks off so many things on my list. Some of these things are:

- it’s set in 1899 (swoon)
- it focuses on strong women
- there is a ghost precinct
- seances, ghosts, readings – not the kind of thing I believe in too much in real life, but I’ll have ALL the fiction about this stuff, please
- there is super cute fake dating!!! Or fake courting, cause it’s 1899 (again, MAJOR SWOON)
- the author really does care about diversity – despite how many authors are unwilling to include it in settings of the past, even if the past is recent
- a lot of that diversity is focused on disability or being neuro diverse in particular (although with century appropriate terminology)
- all the characters are such caring softies
- the story isn’t a one-case-one-book sort of thing – it’s larger than that and more overarching

If you want to read more reasons on why I absolutely recommend to read this, check out the full review of book #1 and book #2 right here:

I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

Book Blog | Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,404 reviews255 followers
November 7, 2018
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Spectral City is a promising series opener. Leanna Renee Hieber does a brilliant job of bringing the historical fantasy paranormal world of early 1900s NYC to life. I love the level of real life historical detail that she's inserted into the story. I also particularly enjoyed the paranormal elements with the ghosts, mediums, physics, and of course the mystery element of The Ghost Precinct. Basically, Eve and her team solve crimes with the help of the dead. The cast of characters, though, is what really makes the story in the long run - the main cast and supporting characters. Eve is brilliant - I love her dedication, willingness to do whatever it takes, and her abilities of course - and it doesn't hurt that she's ahead of her time. Detective Horowitz, though, is a real scene stealer and I wish we got to see a little more of him throughout. Hopefully, we'll get to see more of all of these great characters in the upcoming sequel. Finally, there's so much to love about this historical fantasy series opener and I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next for these characters. Until then I'll need to look into more of Hieber's works starting with The Eterna Files.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,434 reviews180 followers
April 3, 2020
3-3.5 stars. I liked the story and the all-female team of legit spiritualists (and ghosts) with varying abilities who are a working precinct of the police. Appointed by Teddy Roosevelt (when he was still involved with things in New York City) after he could see the value of what Eve Whitby and her grandmother Evelyn were doing using their abilities in helping solve the occasional cold case.
The team encounter the usual anger and misogyny from most of the police force, though one detective, Jacob Horowitz, is open to their methods. Through the loss of one of the ghostly operatives, their own work and a case brought to them by Horowitz, the women's cases begin to converge on odd behaviour of an undertaker and a nouveau riche family, Prenze. By the time the bok ends, a few things are resolved, but the larger mysteries are left open for the next book.
I found the text klunky, at least much more so in the first few chapters, and I kept falling out of the narrative until I grew accustomed to the writing. I also thought the author was doing much more telling than showing, but, and here are the things that got me to the end of the book:
-the friendships between the women
-the deep love between Evelyn and Eve, her granddaughter and protege
-the idea of a ghost precinct within the police force. Imagine the number of cold and ongoing cases that could be resolved!
-the narrative was interesting
-I'm a sucker for stories that take place in NYC
I'm interested enough in the characters and the open story threads to continue to the next instalment.
Profile Image for Leanna Hieber.
Author 50 books1,045 followers
Currently reading
November 21, 2018
Dear Readers, I'm not reviewing my own book here but instead offering a bit of insight into THE SPECTRAL CITY. This is not your average ghost story. As many of you know, my worlds are parallel and characters cross over from one series to the next. (Don't worry, new readers, you can start with this fresh!) But I am thrilled to return to several of my most beloved friends. Eve Whitby stars as a 19th year old medium who, alongside her favorite friendly ghosts, helps solve weird crime in 1899 NYC. She is the daughter of Natalie Stewart-Whitby and Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury, the stars of my Magic Most Foul saga beginning with DARKER STILL. Eve's best friend is "Gran", her namesake, Evelyn Northe-Stewart. Together these two help navigate the difficult spectral world, trying to make sense of it as the 19th century draws to a close. There's so much heart and soul in this book. There's so much love. There's so much to make one shiver. There's so much life amidst so many spirits. There's a delicious slow-burn romance that I'm having such fun developing as the series continues. There's a wonderful group of unique individuals that come together in a found-family full of humor and purpose. I cannot wait for you to meet new friends and greet familiar faces. I cannot wait to meet new readers and celebrate with my wondrous life-long readers who have continued to be the reason I do what I do. I hope you'll enjoy this series and in its honor, I hope you'll seek out a friend, an elder, a mentor, a family member, a spirit, a stranger, and have a meaningful, life-affirming and spiritually enriching encounter.

If anyone has any questions about the series, you're welcome to ask them, I'm not here often (find me on Twitter @leannarenee) but I'll try to respond.

Cheers, blessings and Happy Haunting!
Profile Image for Darrell Grizzle.
Author 7 books55 followers
January 18, 2019
I love everything about this novel: the setting (1890's New York); the main character, Eve Whitby; the idea of a Ghost Precinct where mediums (media?) and ghosts work together to solve mysteries; and the way this gifted author tells the story of strong female characters (both alive and ghostly). Leanna Renee Hieber, in addition to being an author, is an actress who leads ghost tours in New York City, and her knowledge of ghosts and the city itself shine through in this novel that is charming as well as exciting. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,223 reviews393 followers
December 4, 2018
I discovered Leanna Renee Hieber way back in 2011 when I read one of her early books. I saw it in a local used book store and randomly picked it up. When I got home I started reading and couldn’t put it down.

I loved the romance and the paranormal and her overall storytelling and because of that first book in the Strangely Beautiful series, I fell in love with this author. She writes a spicy romance with great brooding heroes so I was thrilled to read this new book.

Ok so this book is a strong start to what will hopefully be a promising new series. I loved the idea that this book is built on—-detectives (women) solving crimes with ghosts. It’s different and interesting and I think will give fans of supernatural lit a lot to enjoy.

Eve is so like-able. I loved her determination to solve crimes and she is dedicated to her job but what I loved the most was her abilities and how she connects to the ghosts. I loved discovering her character and getting to know her in this book. I think she will be a character that appeals to a wide variety of readers. She’s ahead of her time and quirky but yet so like-able that you can’t help but be excited to read more.

Let’s talk about Detective Horowitz for a minute. I loved him. Every time he was in the story I was like swoon city. He was progressive and interesting and I loved that chemistry that he brought. My only bit of disappointment was that we didn’t get to see more of him in this story. I get that it’s supposed to be more about Eve, but I wanted more of Detective Horowitz.

I think this book was a promising start. You can tell that Hieber has written a number of paranormal books because her world building was excellent. I loved the amount of historical research and facts she added into this story. I recently read The Alienist this year which featured Teddy Roosevelt and this book also featured him and I loved how she brought TDRs police background into this book.

The only thing that I felt like was wanting in this book was the fact that not everything was resolved in this book. I am sure some of the lingering questions will be wrapped up in future books but for me I needed a little more closure and resolution. I read a few other reviews on this book as well and many said the same thing, more closure.

Overall I would say this was a four star book for me. It was good but there was room for improvement with the ending. If you are looking for a new paranormal or para-romance style book then you should consider picking this one up. Hieber is an excellent writer with lots of stories in her arsenal. This author is one to watch!

see my full review here
Profile Image for Debrac2014.
1,846 reviews10 followers
August 26, 2022
Interesting mystery set at the turn of the century! It's about a NYC police precinct of women psychics who solve crimes with the help of ghosts! It wasn't quite my cup of tea, but it kept my interest.
Profile Image for Nichole.
788 reviews17 followers
December 28, 2018
Eve Whitby is a medium. She can see and talk to ghosts. She has been chosen to be in charge of the Ghost Precinct. Her unit will assist the police when only a ghost can lead them in the right direction. Not only is the Ghost Precinct unusual because of it's supernatural ties, but this is back when women couldn't hold those types of jobs. It was unseemly.
I really wanted to like this book, but I was bored from the start. I didn't connect with the characters, and I didn't really care what happened.

I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books325 followers
December 18, 2018
I happened to see the blurb on this one and it checked off so many boxes for me: Gilded Age NYC, spiritualists and ghosts, detecting, disappearances, and something ominous happening. But, let's not forget a favorite narrator was doing the storytelling. It was sure to delight me.

The Spectral City opens with a prologue that had me riveted right from the opening sentences. A ghost heeds calls for help and finds herself trapped in a horrific way. Next, the scene shifts to a young woman, who as a powerful medium, sees, hears, and senses ghosts. She and her knew Ghost Precinct have been endorsed and launched by Governor Teddy Roosevelt himself. The fact that her staff are women and are spiritualists who admittedly work with ghost staff is a huge strike against them and there are constant barriers, but Eve and her people are dedicated to their work so they will stand firm hoping that some day tolerance and respect will catch up.

Eve becomes aware that one of her own own ghost friends is missing and the whole spirit world is unsettled about something really bad associated with Maggie's disappearance. Everyone searches for Maggie and then they get a new case of a missing girl which is quickly followed other cases that may or may not be unrelated.
Eve's liaison to the regular police force, Lt. Horowitz, is a certain attractive skeptic who makes her heart zing, but he's open to any help he can get solving the crimes and notices her just as much as she does him.
If her work life isn't already busy, her misguided parents are pushing her to step back into her traditional role to marry well in the upper class social circles to which they belong and leave her ghosts behind. They want nothing to do with the ghosts after their own trauma from their early acquaintance so she feels isolated and unappreciated in her own family.
Things do come to a head, but there are more questions than answers when the story ends.

The Spectral City was full to the brim of amazing worldbuilding and a vibrant premise that definitely had my attention. Ghosts and mediums solving crime, oh yes! I found this world of NYC in the Gilded Age, paranormal elements, mysteries and detectives, and all the fascinating backgrounds of the circle of Ghost Precinct staff as well as Eve's family quite incredible. Some very exciting and even moderately chilling story path's were begun in this book. A lovely camaraderie of diverse women who are more like sisters and this includes their ghosts was also a bright and shining part.

But, as fascinating as all that was, this book had the troubles a first book in a series, but (and this is a first) also the problems one can encounter if one dives into the middle of an existing series. It was the weirdest sensation to feel I was being inundated with too much going on and having things over-explained, but at the same time, a strong sense that a whole book worth of story line must have come before this one. I would have rather trimmed up the places that felt over-explained and definitely the places where I was treated to the same topic for the half-dozenth time and taken all those extra pages to have gotten the parts in active voice present that the author chose to summarize in passive voice about how Eve and her Gran came up with the idea to use her ghosts and her ghost talent to solve crime, how the ghosts came to be tethered to her and the Precinct, and how the other mediums came to Eve and helped her solve cases so that Roosevelt backed them and gave them their own Precinct offices. There were references to past adventures and all those introductions that would have made a great first book or at least a prequel.

This sensation of feeling like I was missing stuff made me go back to investigate and, though there wasn't a prequel, there was an original series this one spun from- the author's Magic Most Foul trilogy. However, that series featured this heroine's parents and grandparents and their story wrapped up and had a very different plot that was utterly unconnected other than carryover characters.

I guess my point about that tug o' war of too much and too little is that the reader needs to be patient through to the second half of the book because it takes a while to get rolling. But, when it does, it makes up for the sluggish start.

Nineteen year old Eve was an interesting blend of someone who acted exactly her age and someone I could barely believe was only that age. She's in charge of the Ghost Precinct and she is not reticent about having that control and responsibility. She micro-manages and constantly has to be reminded to be a team player and pace herself. She's driven and is like a bloodhound on the scent who is oblivious to anything but what has her focus. She tends to insists on people seeing things her way, but at the same time tries to be patient about 'bringing them along' She can get the 'woe is me' going, but doesn't wallow in it. She has inner strength and a deep capacity as a caregiver and protector. I enjoyed her character and particularly when she is around Lt. Horowitz who flusters her and around her Gran who is her mentor and friend offering unconditional love and support when her parents cannot though they do love her.

I should probably mention that this one ends on a cliffie. Things start to get mighty interesting and Eve and the other's are just realizing what they are up against and all the danger when it closes out to be continued.

I listened to this one and I chose to because the talented Tavia Gilbert was narrating. Her voices of both genders and many ages were superb. I found her accents both a few regional and also the International accents fun. This was a large cast of characters and there was so much going on that I credit Ms. Gilbert for me not getting confused and able to stay in step with this book.

All in all, I came through to the end feeling pleased to have experienced the book- particularly the author's colorful and creative world- and look forward to what will come next. This one crosses so many genres (historical, urban fantasy, mystery, thriller) that I'll just say that if that sort of mash up tickles your fancy give it a try.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Anna Szabó.
468 reviews3 followers
November 16, 2018
When I think about ghost stories what comes to mind are horror stories with ghosts haunting people or houses. But The spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber is not that kind of ghost story. It’s something else. I LOVED it!

There is this sentence that caught my attention. “ There are protocols, paperwork, one can’t just barge in and begin levitating family belongings.” I just knew this is going to be fun and totally different from any other ghost related books I’ve ever read.

Eve Whitby is a medium, an especially gifted one. She talks to ghosts. And she uses this gift to help the police solve crimes or try and prevent them. And she cares about said ghosts very much. So when one of them disappears she is desperate to find out what happened. What could harm something that is already dead?

And the other mediums as well, I very much like all of them which is rare for me. They all have the gift but use different way to converse with the dead.

The plot was interesting although it seemed a little chaotic sometimes. I was sometimes lost between all the cases they handled simultaneously. But everything connects with everything.

The ending is not satisfying. Almost all the questions are left unanswered so I hope the next book is out soon.

This is my first book by her but won’t be the last.

There is a thing that I think might be a mistake in Chapter 9, when Eve is talking to a guy and he calls her Miss Whitby but then he asks for her name a couple of sentences later.

Thank you NetGalley and Rebel Base Books for this advanced copy.
Profile Image for Catherine Siemann.
1,117 reviews19 followers
January 7, 2019
I've been following Leanna Renee Hieber's books since her Strangely Beautiful series, and when she launched this new paranormal mystery series set in 1899 NYC, I knew it would be right up my alley. Eve Whitby is the leader of the newly-launched Ghost Precinct, an all-female division of the NYPD where mediums use their gifts to solve crimes which ordinary methods can't crack. The book starts with a really dramatic hook -- a ghost, one of Eve's favorite contacts, disappears under mysterious circumstances. We next see Teddy Roosevelt himself, then governor of New York State, launching Eve's new division, much to the skepticism of most of the NYPD -- except for open-minded (and of course very attractive!) Lieutenant Jacob Horowitz, himself something of an outsider in the force.

Early on, we're introduced to so many characters, both from some of Hieber's earlier series and the various mediums and ghosts who are part of Eve's life and work, that it slows the book down for awhile, Keep reading, however -- each of the characters is nicely defined and once the plot starts rolling along, each has an important place in the narrative. While the case in question is resolved, we do end on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Eve, Horowitz, and one of the ghosts headed on their way upstate on their next adventure. I look forward to finding out what happens next!
Profile Image for Cornerofmadness.
1,602 reviews9 followers
March 24, 2020
Eve Whitby comes from a family of psychics, even though her parents are not comfortable with this at all (Her grandmother, however, is and is both a powerful psychic and Eve's mentor). It opens with Eve being put in charge of a supernatural squad within the NYPD by Teddy Roosevelt himself and Detective Horowitz is set up as her liaison.

Something strange happens immediately. One of the ghosts Eve usually speaks to, who helps her with her investigations, has gone missing. Eve and her other psychic companions, several young women from diverse backgrounds and races (and one who communicates via sign language) have a few cases facing them. A murder at a prominent house that no one is allowed to investigate, a spat of religiously motivated thefts and a missing little girl are all piled on their plate.

Without spoilers, they are somewhat interrelated and the ladies (along with Horowitz) have to prize apart all the threads and follow them back to answers. I will say that it doesn't quite all tie up and the ending is very open to the next book (as I type this, the third in the series is gearing up for release). I'm not generally a fan of opening endings but enough was tied up and the story felt done so that was okay.

I really liked Eve and Horowitz. Both are outsiders (she a woman/psychic on the force right before the turn of the 20th century, and he a Jewish detective) and they work well together. You can see the beginnings of a romance there. I did like Eve's girl gang of psychics (not to mention Grandma) but I didn't feel like I got to know the other psychics that well yet. I'm looking forward to doing that in book two. I really enjoyed this and I'm awaiting what comes next.
Profile Image for Sharon.
428 reviews5 followers
August 15, 2021
3.5 out of 5 stars.
I don't remember who suggested this book or where I heard of it, but onto my hold list at the library it went and I finally finished reading it. I found the story interesting, it's a good ghost story with mediums and seances and friendly ghosts who try to help by sharing information, plus just enough creep factor to not keep me up at night but add the right touch of mystery. But something about the pacing kept me from reading it quickly, as I usually do. The characters include living and dead characters, and there are enough names to keep track of, I probably should have taken notes. This is part of a series, and other than one subplot in this book, the larger plots will continue over the next book(s). I thought the one wrapped up story line seemed like it would be much more than it actually ended up being, and maybe there will be connections later, but it kind of fizzled out. On the other hand, because it involved a child, I'm glad it wasn't violent, as the plot seemed to be developing that direction. Other plots that are unresolved include an evil presence or persons, and the budding romance between the female main character, Eve, and the detective, Jacob Horowitz. There are interesting issues regarding the wealthy, religion, family pressures, working women, how the police operate - that are touched on, and hopefully will be explored more in subsequent books. The characters are interesting enough I'm curious where the series will go as it progresses. If ghosts and a slightly gothic feel in 19th century New York City sounds interesting, give it a try.

CW for death of children, loss of parents, difficult family relationships, drugged and imperiled characters, an asylum for the insane is included.
Profile Image for Franca Pelaccia.
Author 4 books78 followers
February 21, 2019
It’s 1899 New York and the NYPD has just opened up the Ghost Precinct. It is run by psychics and their ghost allies under the direction of nineteen-year-old Eve Whitby. Their job is to help solve challenging crimes through their psychic gifts. The novel starts when one of Eve’s most trusted ghost allies, disappears into the “darkness” and is unreachable. While Eve and her crew try to locate and bring her back, they investigate the kidnapping of a girl only to find that certain houses have managed to ward off ghosts. When Eve’s grandmother, another psychic, is kidnapped, they discover that someone is doing scientific tests on them. The girl’s kidnapping is solved but the mystery of who is doing the scientific tests and how some houses can ward-off ghosts remains unresolved. It would appear that The Spectral City is only the first book of a series and sets the main mystery in motion.

The Spectral City is dense in psychic phenomena, which is interesting, but heavy in backstories and irrelevant description. The mediums are all women and culturally diverse, too, and the ghosts from all walks of life. This makes for interesting dynamics between them and the non-believing, all-male police force especially when the author paints an alternative New York City but remains true to the social atmosphere of the Victorian time. The Spectral City will appeal to readers who enjoy dark psychic paranormal mysteries with lots of other-world phenomena thrown in.
Reviewed for Historical Novel Society
Profile Image for Melise.
449 reviews1 follower
September 3, 2018
I enjoyed this book very much. The story of a young woman named Eve, in New York around the turn of the 20th century, who is able to speak to ghosts who help her solve crimes. She has a benefactor in Teddy Roosevelt, who actually forms a division of the NYPD based around her ability to solves crimes. The book has a nice level of historical detail, with a main character who feels very contemporary in her thinking-something which normally feels jarring to me, but worked well in this book.

I was a bit worried that this book would fall within the paranormal romance/mystery genre of books like Charmaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels-which I simply do not enjoy very much. But this book did not feel like that series to me, instead reminding me more of Connie Willis’ Blackout.

The only issue that I had was the abrupt nature of the ending, which raises another immediate mystery for Eve to pursue. As I was reading an advanced reading copy not due for release for another two months, I am very frustrated by the prospective wait for the next book to find out what happens to Eve and her companions.

I received an advanced reading copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thanks!
Profile Image for Anna Szabó.
468 reviews3 followers
November 16, 2018
When I think about ghost stories what comes to mind are horror stories with ghosts haunting people or houses. But The spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber is not that kind of ghost story. It’s something else. I LOVED it!

Eve Whitby is a medium, an especially gifted one. She talks to ghosts. And she uses this gift to help the police solve crimes or try and prevent them. And she cares about said ghosts very much. So when one of them disappears she is desperate to find out what happened. What could harm something that is already dead?

And the other mediums as well, I very much like all of them which is rare for me. They all have the gift but use different way to converse with the dead.

The plot was interesting although it seemed a little chaotic sometimes. I was sometimes lost between all the cases they handled simultaneously. But everything connects with everything.

The ending is not satisfying. Almost all the questions are left unanswered so I hope the next book is out soon.

This is my first book by her but won’t be the last.

There is a thing that I think might be a mistake in Chapter 9, when Eve is talking to a guy and he calls her Miss Whitby but then he asks for her name a couple of sentences later.

Thank you NetGalley and Rebel Base Books for this advanced copy.
Profile Image for Carly O'Connell.
543 reviews11 followers
August 15, 2019
Short but sweet, an introduction to Eve Whitby and her ghost precinct. Eve is the daughter of Natalie and Jonathan Whitby, the protagonist and love interest of the first Hieber book I ever read, and granddaughter of the formidable Evelyn Northe-Stewart, who played a role in the Eterna Files series as well. It was interesting to see these familiar characters from a fresh perspective.
While Eve's parents are traumatized from their own brush with the supernatural in their youth, Eve can't live without it. She has been able to see and hear ghosts for as long as she can remember, and finds it her calling to try to help bring them peace.
That is why, with the help of Governor Theodore Roosevelt, she has joined the New York City police force, using knowledge gained from spirits to crack the toughest of cases. It doesn't hurt that she often gets to work alongside the handsome Detective Horowitz.
But when one of her own ghost operatives goes missing, members of her team get kidnapped, and the spirit world cannot provide the answers she needs, what does this mean for Eve and her loved ones?
I do highly recommend reading both the Darker Still and Eterna Files series first, so you understand the background of all the secondary characters.
89 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2018
The Spectral City is a really interesting concept - historical urban fantasy with ghosts and female detectives in a time when prejudice is rife but attitudes are changing. There are some pretty badass characters in this story and I was intrigued right from the start as to what the mystery was and how it would be solved.

I would say it perhaps needed a firmer hand in the editing process - the pacing is off and at times dragged, in part because it feels like every single character is introduced with a lengthy backstory, overloading the reader at times with information. Given that this is the first in a series, I felt that secondary characters could have their backstories introduced and explored in later stories when they became relevant.

The book explores a lot of themes and issues, and at times it felt like it was trying to do too much when I'd rather it would have focused on the plot to keep the story moving. However, it is still an enjoyable read and I imagine the series will pick up in the next instalment.

Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC
Profile Image for Julia O'Connell.
417 reviews14 followers
December 19, 2018
For Eve Whitby, a connection to the supernatural seems to run in the family. A talented medium like her grandmother Evelyn, Eve has decided to turn her ghost-related abilities into a career. With the support of New York City governor Teddy Roosevelt, she quietly forms a Ghost Precinct within the NYPD to solve cold cases via otherworldly means. Their specialty is finding missing children, but when one of their own ghost operatives goes missing, Eve realizes that they may be dealing with something bigger than she’s ever faced before. Meanwhile, a troubling thread of strange coincidences seems to be running through all of their cases: poison, the powerful Prenze family, and the ominous warning “Don’t let anything in.” Eve will need to call on all her allies—from her grandmother to the long-time veteran of psychic battles, Clara Bishop, and the handsome Detective Horowitz—in order to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Read my full review at https://www.thegothiclibrary.com/revi...
Profile Image for Rachel | Barely Bookish.
22 reviews15 followers
October 3, 2019
Disclosure: I bought this book because I received the second book as an ARC. As always, my opinions about this book are my own.

Let me just say, these books are fantastic for Halloween. They’ve got everything you could possibly want, ghosts, girls with almost magical powers, and those same girls fight for what’s right. What’s not to love?

Honestly, I really liked it. I am not usually one to seek out historical fiction, but the second I heard ghosts, I was excited. I love ghosts in books, especially when they’re not used as a medium to scare the reader. Too many books show ghost as something to be feared. This did a wonderful job of allowing ghosts to be more. It truly felt as though this book opens the discussion of the paranormal in a way that shows that they are like us, but passed on, a sentiment I always felt to be true.

I think this book did a fantastic job of keeping you in the time period and engaged with the characters. It was very well written and I didn’t really get caught up in any huge mistakes. I honestly can’t wait to read the next book.
Profile Image for Beth.
604 reviews
November 25, 2019
Precinct of spirit detectives

I enjoyed this book. The setting in the late 1800’s with famous historical figures dropping in was unique and interesting. I enjoyed reading about the charlatans selling tinctures and the robber barons who were bent on making money at the expense of others. Mainly I enjoyed the detectives and their relationship with the spirits who assist them in solving crimes. I also liked the growing relationship between Eve and Jacob. I have only two criticisms. One is that this is supposedly book one of a series but I felt like I missed a previous book because there was so much about Eve’s grand parents and parents back story that was mentioned that I felt there had to be another book or series I’ve missed. If it exists, I’d like to read it. The second criticism is the cliffhanger ending. I think the author should have ended with the picnic. I would still want to read book two but the way this ended was a little annoying. I still liked this a lot and will start book two ASAP.
August 12, 2020
First off, this book breaks the genre promises and DOES NOT SOLVE THE MYSTERY. In most mysteries, the event happens, in this case, the disappearance of Maggie, and the book should move toward finding out what happened, who did it, and getting Maggie back. Well, the what and how are never answered, I assume to set up for the next book but HELLO... Not okay.

I also didn't love the laborious pacing of this book or the "name dropping" of famous people in history as if to add credence to the story, yet those scenes with famous people didn't move the plot forward. So much reflection and so little action until about chapter 12.

Basically, this is a frustrating, slow read that doesn't solve the mystery. If you're looking for a paranormal historical set in the 20's in New York with not much going on, very low conflict, this book may be for you, but I expected a mystery and all I got was a "solved" red herring. Not happy.
Profile Image for Kristine.
3,243 reviews
November 29, 2018
The Spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November.

Post-victorian New York detective work (usually having to do with murder or kidnapping) with Eve, other mediums, spirit guides, and the Ghost Precinct. It's all kind of like a third-person-narrated Ghostbusters with a perspective from the ghosts themselves during a post-Alienist timeframe and the spooky concept that ghosts/spirits can be lost even further into the afterlife than where the Ghost Precinct can access. Eve approaches her work and fellow mediums with such grace and gratitude, even when she encounters people or communities who don’t believe or understand, though she struggles to cope with mean-spirited wails from the other side that distract and play with her emotions & fears.
Profile Image for hpboy13.
865 reviews38 followers
June 25, 2020
I love the banter and chemistry between Horowitz and Eve, I just wish there was more of it in this book!

It was also interesting to see a former Hieberverse protagonist, Natalie from Magic Most Foul, cast in an antagonistic role in this book – usually all of Hieber’s protagonists dearly love each other and get along splendidly, but it made for a refreshing change of pace to see some conflict among characters we like.

In fact, I wish there was more conflict all around, because Eve and her friends and so lovely it sometimes borders on saccharine. I much prefer the spicier wit of Evelyn, and especially Maggie, whom I hope to see more of in the sequels!
Profile Image for chey!.
66 reviews9 followers
November 16, 2020
A dazzling story with an incredibly inclusive cast for a historical fiction (four psychic women, including one who is Black, one who is trans, and a young girl who signs) and a delicious slow-burn romance. There are a lot of loose ends remaining, but the last few chapters heavily hinted that these would be addressed in the sequel.

This is my first work by this author, and the book is set in the same universe as another series by her. Quite a few references flew over my head that I might have enjoyed had I read the other work. At times, there were vague callbacks to adventures in books I hadn’t read that left me confused.
Profile Image for S.M..
Author 4 books18 followers
January 14, 2021
There's nothing inherently wrong with the story, but it was incredibly boring. The second half was a little better than the first, but the second half also had a million errors. If I had to guess, I'd say they tried to save money by not hiring a copy editor. The book really needs one, though. It was a little like reading a first or second draft--very annoying.

The cast was very diverse, and the large number of characters didn't feel overwhelming. But overall I'm very disappointed both in the book itself and in the fact that I went ahead and bought the whole trilogy at once. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to read the next book. If I do, it will be out of obligation, not pleasure.
292 reviews3 followers
January 16, 2019
Another wonderful book by Leanna! I was introduced to some new characters, human and ghost while at the same time catching up with some characters from previous works. The team work of law enforcement and spiritualism is wonderful to see, even if it is a bit limited. The work that Eve and her team do is amazing, helping find lost souls and solve crimes. The team that Eve has put together works well as they combine their skills to locate missing bodies and help families come to terms with what happened to their loved ones.
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