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Riley Thomas #1

The Forgotten Child

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The dead can speak. They need her to listen.

Ever since Riley Thomas, reluctant medium extraordinaire, accidentally released a malevolent spirit from a Ouija board when she was thirteen, she’s taken a hard pass on scary movies, haunted houses, and cemeteries. Twelve years later, when her best friend pressures her into spending a paranormal investigation weekend at the infamous Jordanville Ranch — former home of deceased serial killer Orin Jacobs — Riley’s still not ready to accept the fact that she can communicate with ghosts.

Shortly after their arrival at the ranch, the spirit of a little boy contacts Riley; a child who went missing — and was never found — in 1973.

In order to put the young boy’s spirit to rest, she has to come to grips with her ability. But how can she solve a mystery that happened a decade before she was born? Especially when someone who knows Orin’s secrets wants to keep the truth buried — no matter the cost.

CW/TW: Adult language, sexual situations, discussions about sexual assault.

363 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 10, 2018

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About the author

Melissa Erin Jackson

18 books378 followers
Melissa is a professional pet sitter and an author of paranormal mysteries. There are two books out in her Riley Thomas mystery series--The Forgotten Child, and Shuttered Secrets. Her Witch of Edgehill cozy paranormal mystery series is complete at five books. The first book in her urban fantasy series, The Charm Collector, is out now: Diabolical Sword. Wicked Treasure is up next! She owns too many pets and lives in Northern California with her equally pet-obsessed boyfriend. For information about her books, you can join her newsletter at melissajacksonbooks.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 190 reviews
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,563 reviews2,312 followers
October 6, 2021
The Forgotten Child
(Riley Thomas #1)
by Melissa Erin Jackson

This is a great ghost book, psychic powers, and a thriller. A reluctant gal goes with friends to a haunted house where a serial killer had been caught years prior. The killer died in prison. The house is now booked A year in advance for ghost hunters. Our gal of the story really can see and hear ghosts but is fearful. She hasn't told anyone since A terrible incident when she was 13.
But things start up again when she gets there. She sees a child not associated with the case. He wants her help. He follows her home. This is only the start. It is spooky and quite the thriller!

Warning, this has sexual assault in it.
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,153 reviews241 followers
March 11, 2020
Content warnings include murder, sexual assault, stalking and kidnapping.

I loved the beginning of this book. It has banter between friends, TV series binge watching and an upcoming road trip to a haunted ranch that used to be the home of a serial killer. The main character is a true crime enthusiast who’s also more in tune with the spirit world than she’d like to be. Ever since the “Great Ouija Board Fiasco” in her childhood Riley has tried to squish, deny and otherwise ignore her ability to see dead people.

I was all in during the lead up to the weekend at the ranch and I loved the ooky spookiness of her time there. I loved Pete, the ghost boy she meets over hot chocolate; Pete became my favourite character. I even enjoyed the banter between Riley and Michael, a sceptic who was dragged along to the ranch because he lost a bet.

Michael, or Mr Perfect as I came to think of him, was a nice addition to the story during his initial banter with Riley but I ended up finding him nauseatingly perfect and hoped he’d turn out to be a serial killer in disguise. I was creeped out that Mr Perfect called Riley “my girl” and she goes all swoony about it when the serial killer also called his victims his girls. I also wondered how it was possible that Michael didn’t know what a séance was when he kept talking about his cousin who works as a medium.

Once the story left the ranch my excitement began to fade as this serial killer ghost story morphed into more of a romance (yes, I’m a romantiphobe), one that seemed to be a way for the characters to pass the time while they were waiting for people to respond to their murder investigation phone calls and emails. Naturally there’s the obligatory sex scene along with the follow up description of the next night - “They were two insatiable beasts”. Ugh! Trashy romance novel jargon is also borrowed, mentioning the serial killer’s “manhood”. Ugh! Eye roll!

I enjoyed the chapters that helped tell the story of the serial killer; the way he thought, what he was trying to accomplish and the history of some of his victims. I thought I would really like Mindy, the girl who lived, but was disappointed that she was mostly typecast as ‘helpless victim’. Fair enough, considering what she’d experienced but I wanted more for her. It also didn’t seem plausible that this woman who’d been in hiding since her escape would be so easy to find or that she’d respond to Riley in the way that she does.

I liked Riley’s character and really enjoyed the scenes when she was fangirling about her favourite TV series with another character as I could relate to that (maybe a little too well). I mostly enjoyed it when Riley chatted with her best friend Jade but Jade’s habit of spouting sexual euphemisms, while intended to be funny, had me practicing my eye rolling. The best (worst?) one was “cattle-prodding your oyster ditch with his lap rocket”. Seriously?

I did find Riley’s transition from denying her ability to embracing it a tad rushed but considering her experience at the ranch it was fairly understandable. I also found the wrap up of the story predictable right down to the . I was really irritated by some of Riley’s actions including . Then again, it would take some of the fun out of reading a horror/mystery/paranormal book if the main characters didn’t do stupid things that you want to yell at them through the pages about.

I’m interested in reading the next book in the series because there was a lot to like about this book. I enjoyed the engaging style of writing and became hooked almost immediately. I was captivated until Riley left the ranch and turned into a swooner (is that a word?) who worries if her new boyfriend will yell at her for doing something stupid. It probably seems like I wouldn’t want to read on after essentially pulling this book apart but after such a strong beginning I have faith in this author’s ability to become one of my favourites. It feels like there’s potential for the characters to grow and given Riley’s still learning about her abilities I’m curious to see how the series progresses.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Ringtail Press for the opportunity to read this book. I’d give this 3.5 stars but am rounding up.
Profile Image for Melissa Erin Jackson.
Author 18 books378 followers
September 24, 2021
I’ll just tell you some things about the book rather than reviewing it.

+ There are ghosts!

+ There is romance. If you don’t like romance mixed in with your creepy elements, this might not be your cup of tea.

+ This is a paranormal mystery that’s somewhere between a cozy and a traditional mystery. I’d say there’s quite a few spooky/creepy elements, but wouldn’t label it as horror. If you’re a bit of a chicken (like me!), it might creep you out, but it likely won’t cause nightmares. (Hopefully.)

+ It’s an adult book (Riley, the lead character, is 25), not YA. Recommended audience is 18+ due to language and sexual content.

+ The audiobook is out!

+ If you have personal experience with hauntings, I want to hear allll of your ghost stories. I love ghost stories so so much.

+ Thank you for reading! <3
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,510 reviews199 followers
September 19, 2018
I loved the way the book started. It had the right amount of horror and paranormal. The story had Riley, a reluctant medium, forced to spend a weekend with friends in Jordanville Ranch, home of deceased serial killer, Orin Jacobs. There Riley not only met the evil force of Orin, but a gentle spirit, Pete, who needed to be found. His mother was still mourning and waiting for him forty years hence.

Debut by Melissa Jackson started with a bang. I am not generally brave and this seemed like a good book for my foray into horror. The initial part was total fun and scary. I loved the way my fear skittered across my skin like tiny critters in a dark room where only the claws could be heard. I loved the way evil Orin sent his message to the main character, Riley for daring to enter into his territory, there was room rampage, the downing rods burning up palms. Wow!!

I loved the way Riley had to find her courage and go back to solve the kidnapping and murder in 1973. Romance started with the entry of Michael in the horror house, where both of them clicked. Michael was a great male lead, and the interactions between Riley and him were humorous and flirty. Besides he was very supportive. Romance between the two was light and breezy and it felt just right.

Then the book went into investigation and the reveal of a secret which had been kept buried for forty years. Therein started my niggles, I could read the horror in an hour, but the rest of the book took a couple of days. The investigation was slow and hardly any horror, and it felt like a routine mystery book. For me it lost its steam.

Overall the book had everything, horror, romance, mystery, ghosts, paranormal. So it was enjoyable.
Profile Image for lucia meets books.
263 reviews138 followers
October 10, 2018
3.5 stars

First I think is important to mention that this book contains rape and also sex (not very graphic scenes but they were there), so if you aren't comfortable with these topics I wouldn't recommend you to read it.

Otherwise, this book was quite entertaining and fascinating! I do have to admit I wanted to read horror and although this book has ghosts, it wasn't exactly scary, which was a little bit disappointing. The main reason for me being the romance, before it I felt creeped out by some of the scenes but after it I couldn't connect with the horror side of things :/


Talking about the romance, I loved both of the characters involved individually because they were sweet and charming but together I couldn't see their chemistry. It was a little bit of insta-love and I think they would have been better of as friends but, at the same time, it was kind of nice to see them protect each other.

Now, the main character, Riley, made a 180 degree change that came out of nowhere. At first she was a shy girl, struggling to do small talk but then when the love interest shows up she masters talking to a stranger and seems very approchable, after this she continues being this way thoughout the book. Although, she was really relatable during the story, it was a bit strange to see that change in her personality.

One of the things I loved was that we get to see how a lot of different stories come together thanks to Riley, there were a couple of characters that represented each story but at the same time there weren't so many people that you would start to get confused. My favorite one was Walter I almost cried with the chapter that contains his life, so sweet and sad.


Another thing was Riley's relationship with her best friend, Jade. How I loved those two, they were really supportive to each other and it felt so deeply the love they had for one another. I do wish we would have been able to see them together more often but I still was reading their scenes with hearts in my eyes.

The ending was more than I was expecting it to be! I liked how I couldn't even see it coming, I'm pretty good at discovering endings before they happen (that's why I don't read many thrillers) but I couldn't do it with this one. I had some ideas but at the end none of them were true and I love when that happens :P

Profile Image for Kayla Henley.
17 reviews
June 30, 2018
An amazing story that expertly combines the supernatural, serial killers, true crime, psychic mediums, and even humor. Riley is not your typical medium; a girl in her mid-twenties, she lives alone and spends her days avoiding most human interaction and, more importantly, ANYTHING to do with the paranormal—a traumatic experience from childhood having left her deeply scarred and convinced her abilities will only bring harm to others. But that all changes when she spends a terrifying night in the haunted home of a notorious serial killer, stumbling across a brutal crime forgotten by history. This snowballs a series of events that leads Riley on a dangerous hunt for answers, while also navigating the confusion and hope of new love.

I read this book in one day and found myself engrossed in the plot and deeply attached to the characters. What I appreciate the most about this story is its multi-faceted structure; many novels of this genre focus their plot in one or two settings (the group in a haunted house stalked by a serial killer being the classic example), but Jackson doesn’t focus her attention on a single location or plot line for too long. Following Riley’s quest for answers while flashing back to events that stained the house’s history, Jackson feeds the story to the reader one piece at a time, building a twisted picture that leaves the reader guessing until the end. For fans of ghosts, serial killers, true crime, and for those who can relate to that confusing time in your twenties of figuring out adulthood and relationships, THIS is a book for you!
Profile Image for Chrissie.
184 reviews3 followers
September 25, 2018
How to tell someone subtly to read a book? Without spoilers? This is going to be the toughest one yet. I had this book spotlighted on my blog for its coming release, and the synopsis had me so interested that I sent the author a request, let me know if the book is on Netgalley, please?! She did, I requested it, and I got accepted to read it - IN ONE DAY!

I could not stop reading this book once I started, and while there was a lot to the plot, Melissa wrote it in such a way that you keep wanting more. I wished that this book never ended, it was that good. I'm sure that if Melissa wanted, she can write more books about Riley and I will be the first person in line to read every one of them.

This follows Riley, as she learns to accept her gift and make peace with the way in which this will change her life. After pretending she cannot see ghosts for most of her life, her best friend Jade bullies her into going away to a haunted house for a weekend, where this whole mess starts.

We also see snippets of Riley's past and how this shaped her need to hide her gift for this many years, as well as insight into the murderer, Orin - I am happy to say that these were sufficiently creepy and insightful at the same time.

Orin's life, how he got into murder, was fascinating. He didn't see it as murder, but rather a study of human anatomy while his subjects were still alive. This was an interesting take that I don't see often in these types of mysteries. He was intrigued by how things worked from the inside, including humans...

The friendship between the five ladies going on this trip together, Riley, Jade, Pamela, Brie, and Rochelle was so fun to read about. Jade's inappropriate sex jokes had me laughing out loud and fit her personality so well.

Michael, the love interest in this book, was a beautiful, strong, and secure man that gave Riley everything she needed at every moment. He was there for her, without crowding her and made her feel safe. He didn't once think she was nuts (well, maybe at the start for a second, but skepticism is a real thing), and supported her through all of the bizarre things that she had to endure.

There were paranormal investigators (secondary characters) - Nina (she played a slightly bigger role), Derrick, Xavier, and Mario. They were full-rounded characters, not just fillers there to further the plot alone. I like that there was thought put into each character introduced into the story for a reason.

Pete, my heart broke for this boy so much - not saying more about this one...

There was also diversity in the character relationships, while not a major part of the plot, this is great to see - no more hiding behind the stereotypical characters we are so sick of.

Melissa had me hanging onto her words, I couldn't read fast enough, and my need to know how this story end was tangible. I would highly recommend buying this book immediately and binge reading - make sure you have a full day that you can dedicate to this book... For fans of fast-paced thrillers...
Profile Image for Dez Nemec.
715 reviews23 followers
March 10, 2021
In the prologue, we meet Orin Jacobs. When he was a child, his mom thought he'd be an inventor someday because he liked to take things apart and see how they worked. Unfortunately, he also began to take apart living things. His mom was not too keen on her son's hobby the day she found him with his sister tied to a tree and he told mom: "I wasn't going to hurt her!...I just wanted to see what's inside!" And that is how we start this creepy little tale. Nothing says "future serial killer" like cutting up animals. Orin did have the decency to wait until his mom's death to upgrade to humans, so I guess he does get points for that!

The story begins with two friends, Jade and Riley debating the wisdom of spending a weekend at Orin's former house, Jordanville Ranch. Orin, now long gone (...or is he?!), had used the ranch as the site of his experiments on his "patients." He'd take one girl for a year and operate on her. He wanted to test the human body and see how damage outside affected the inside, among other nasty little things. Orin's former house had been made popular by a reality tv show on the paranormal, and was open for visitors that wanted a weekend of ghost hunting. Riley is extremely apprehensive. Unbeknownst to Jade, Riley is a sensitive. She has been suppressing it since she was a child and saw the deceased sister of her childhood best friend, and doesn't want to put herself into a bad situation. But after Jade lays on the guilt, Riley agrees to go with her and 3 other friends.

Riley immediately feels things are wrong in the house, but tries her hardest to ignore it. After all, there is a super cute skeptic in one of the other groups that is definitely interested in knowing her better. But a few inadvertent object readings and bad dreams have her spooked. Things really get weird when she finds a boy in the lobby, only to discover later that he isn't staying at the house...or the nearby dude ranch...and he's been missing since 1973. Then the tour begins and Riley goes into the basement, the scene of Orin's experiments and all hell breaks loose. Riley leaves the house immediately with friend Pamela and cutie Michael, both of whom were in the basement with her. As they leave, she's sees the missing boy, Peter, in an upstairs window and feels guilty, but can't stay. But Peter follows her home, and things start getting weirder. Riley decides if she can find his body, she can put him to rest. But more went on in Jordanville Ranch than anyone knows. Well, almost anyone.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were likable and the ghost story was interesting. I could've done without some of the romance stuff, but it didn't hamper the story. All in all, this was lots of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Janet Newport.
471 reviews85 followers
October 25, 2018
Thank you NetGalley and Ringtail Press for this arc.

I enjoyed this read... just as I enjoyed the tv program "The Medium". From the blurb, I thought this might be a more comedic / YA kind of book and while it had some of those elements, it really was more. There really was a serious crime here with a lot of loose ends. Riley's "girl gang" may have been a bit over the top, but they seemed like great good friends. Her "romance" with Michael felt a little rushed in the beginning, a little "too magic", but they did have fun (and sex). The first half of the book was a little slow, but that was mostly because of all the introductions to the various characters. The pace picked up steam about half way through and action was fairly non-stop through the end.

I see where this is subtitled A Riley Thomas Mystery # 1 and do hope it's the beginning of a series!
38 reviews
April 6, 2019

I picked up this book because I love ghost stories and I wasn't disappointed! This book is awesome and I loved it! I captured my interest right away and I couldn't put it down. From page one to the very last, this book rocked. It has a little bit of everything. I highly recommend reading Melissa Erin Jackson's debut novel. I seriously can't wait for her next one.
Profile Image for Queen of  Kings.
41 reviews
October 29, 2018
I was utterly swept away in this story. It was not as I was expecting. As I was at about the 33% mark, I was like how is this not wrapping up? All of a sudden it built, and built. Never letting me catch my breath. I was thoroughly entertained. I want more of this character set. More books. I actually read nothing up on the author before reading this and was shocked to see this was the first novel. The talent level of the author was astonishing for a freshman writer. I look forward to more from her. It was the perfect book to read during the Halloween time of year. I couldn't stop reading it. One of my top 5 novels of the year and possibly ever. I don't often give a full 5 stars, but this book earned it.
Profile Image for Jenn Brouwer.
587 reviews12 followers
January 3, 2019
WOW WOW WOW!!! This book was phenomenal. I could not put it down. A mystery with a supernatural element that was also terrifying. Ghosts, torture , murder, seances, paranormal activity and one wild ride. The characters were terrific, I am so glad to see there will be more Riley books. I can’t wait for more. The story of these tortured souls and how Riley can sense them and help them keep me on the edge of my seat. This was super scary! Well done!
Profile Image for Alyssa Palombo.
Author 4 books392 followers
November 12, 2018
I ADORED this book. It had everything I like: a paranormal element, a great romance, a true crime feel, and great female friendships. It was warm and funny at times while also being legitimately scary at others. This is one of my favorite books of 2018 at this point, and I already can't wait for more from Jackson!
Profile Image for Jessie McCoy.
2 reviews
March 24, 2019
I loved this book. I read it from start to finish with no breaks. I loved the characters and their relationships, they were always making me laugh. Of course it had its creepy bits too and it kept it interesting and flowing to the end.
Profile Image for The Views of Heather U .
185 reviews3 followers
October 9, 2018
I absolutely LOVED this book! It it set to be a first in a new series titled “A Riley Thomas Mystery” and I tell you what, I am hooked! This is the first book that I’ve read by the author, Melissa Erin Jackson and I was not disappointed. I tore thru this story, couldn’t put it down.

The plot, fantastic. Riley Thomas can connect with the dead. However it is not something she enjoys in the least after a bad experience, one of her first, when she was a young girl. Ever since that situation, she has kept people at a distance, not venturing out too far, being a home body. Until her dear friend, Jade, convinces her to join in a girls weekend excursion, to none other than an alleged haunted ranch. All hell breaks loose....

I highly recommend that you add this book to your list. Publication date scheduled for October 10th, 2018. For being the first in a series, I personally felt this was a well written story, containing strong characters, a great ending and everything in between was pretty amazing as well! Job well done Ms. Jackson!

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book!
35 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2018
I received an ARC of this book from the author and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book well-written and quite good. It reminded me of two television shows, Ghost Whisperer and Medium, because the main character was female and could communicate with ghosts. I found the main character, Riley, realistic and relatable, mainly because she acts the same way that I do when I watch a television show or movie that I love. She (and a couple of other main characters, like Jade) provided the most comic relief, something that was definitely needed in a book of this genre. At one point, while I was reading, I wondered if the author had experienced paranormal activity herself. If she hasn't, I assume she has done a lot of research and watched a lot of television shows like Mythbusters. Overall, I think this book would be the perfect read for anyone who loves to watch television shows involving paranormal or supernatural activity (Mythbusters, Ghost Whisperer, Medium..., Supernatural).
Profile Image for Kaili (Owl Book World).
266 reviews17 followers
September 19, 2018
I absolutely loved this book! I haven't read a story about ghosts in a while and this book is a good start when trying to get back into this genre. It's not really scary but it is very suspenseful and kept me on my toes. If you're looking for a good book to read around Halloween (or any time for that matter) then check out this book! I'm looking forward to Melissa coming out with more books since she's now become one of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Rose.
115 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2018
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book. The story is so fun and exciting with quirky characters and terrifying ghosts. Can you imagine going on a ghost tour in a house where a psycho serial killer murdered a bunch of girls? It's like a way more entertaining Ghost Hunters episode.
Profile Image for Brandon.
Author 1 book14 followers
October 10, 2018
A great paranormal mystery!

TFC was a page-turner from beginning to end.

I loved this book so much and it really helped me get through a tough reading slump I was in! It was fast-paced and filled with mystery, paranormal activity, great characters I adored.
Profile Image for Brittany.
15 reviews13 followers
May 30, 2018
I. Loved. This. Book. It was fast paced, exciting and juuuuust creepy enough.
Profile Image for Lunnaris.
116 reviews9 followers
September 30, 2020
For me this book deserves 11/5 stars. End of the review.

Yes, so much so.

This book is about a serial murderer, who kidnapped girls to make "contributions to medicine", eventually one of his "patients" managed to escape, and he was caught and convicted for the murders. However, when Riley arrives at the ranch, she realizes that there are probably still a few loose ends in this case, and that she is the only one who can solve them thanks to the information she gets from beyond.

The story is mostly told from Riley's perspective, but some chapters are from Orin's perspective. These are the most scary, because he truly believes he did nothing wrong and even cares about his "patients." Since he was a child, he was always very interested in how things work, the problem is that he was also interested in knowing how human beings work, and after being rejected from medical schools and even forensics (I don't know why they didn't put him in a psychiatric after these interviews 🤷‍♀️), he found a way to conduct his research on his own. He's a very well-constructed character, but pretty gruesome for the same reason.

Reading that description, the book doesn't seem recommendable, but it is. To begin with, I believed every single word in the book. The story is totally realistic (which makes it a lot more terrible), even in the paranormal scenes. Also, the characters. Riley really has no idea how to resolve her new situation and uses the internet a lot to do research. Luckily for her, she has the support of Jade, whose relationship really seems like sisters. And also of Michael, an excessively handsome 30-year-old man she meets on the weekend at the ranch. Honestly, it's worth making that dreadful visit to the ranch to meet someone like Michael 😅. A "reformed idiot" in his own words, who is in charge of keeping Riley from falling apart, as well as being excessively funny, easing the tension in the worst moments in history. I loved this character, he has a million traumas from the past, but he's looking to be a better person.
"What are you talking about?" He placed the back of his hand on her forehead. "You're pale. Are you okay? You look like you've just seen a--oh. Oh! Shit. You saw a ghost."

You could say this book is divided into 3 parts. The beginning and the visit to the ranch, the investigation and then the outcome.

In the beginning, when they arrive at the Jordanville Ranch is the moment that the most chills made me feel. But, once they return home, the investigation is conducted by Riley, as she begins a relationship with Michael. For me it was perfect, because after the nerves of the first chapters and given that the things that Riley discovers are each more frightening than the last, I do not know if I could have handle reading the book it had been otherwise. The relaxed moments on their dates, or Michael's jokes that always break the tension, made me enjoy this book despite its dark background.

The ending is simply spectacular. The book begins by putting your nerves on edge, then allows you to relax a little and then moves at a dizzying pace toward the outcome. I haven't read many thrillers, but it's at the end where most stories fail and this one didn't.

I don't know what else I can tell you so that you run to read this book (but really, if you are too sensitive don't read it, despite being excellent it is quite strong).

PD: This is Melissa's debut book. I honestly couldn't believe it. I could have sworn it was the book of a super experienced writer.

For more reviews please visit https://awindowtomysoul.com/
7,192 reviews85 followers
August 18, 2019
This is a well written book with a thrilling paranormal romance. The author does a fantastic job bringing strong well developed characters and weaves a suspense filled story that had me glued to the pages from beginning to end. The story is brought to life with the vividly detailed scenes. It's an emotional read with both happy and sad times as well as with the chilling elements of a serial killer and the paranormal. I loved and highly recommend this book.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own and freely given.
Profile Image for Amanda.
17 reviews
April 30, 2023
This book had everything I enjoy- super natural stuff, murder mystery stuff, thriller stuff, some humor and romance stuff. It had all the good stuff! I would recommend this to people I care about (that is how I determine a 5 star rating)!
Profile Image for Lou Ann.
20 reviews11 followers
October 24, 2018
This is a "friend" 5 star review, so is a little biased, but I am so proud of Melissa's debut, The Forgotten Child. The story has a wonderful romance, and a paranormal mystery, alternating between the two plot lines. Although not my usual genre, I'm also loving another awesome ghost story (City of Ghosts, Victoria Schwab) and since this story promises more of Riley, the MC, I'm hooked into reading more of her tales. Riley helps solve crimes by tapping into her ghost communication skills. Lots of detail in Melissa's writing, so you'll never be confused. You must read it! But not before bedtime--really spooky. Just in time for Halloween!
Profile Image for Rashmi Binu.
205 reviews2 followers
November 19, 2020
Spooktastic! 😍
I have always been a fan of the paranormal and crime related shows and material. Growing up with family who loved their spooky movies and had long Tales to tell around a candle during blackouts.. This book literally called out to be read. Hence when put book club chose to vote for Halloween books.. This was one of the list and got chosen too 😍.

I throughly enjoyed the book, the backstory, the journey, the acceptance and the justice. A book well deserving of every one of the 🌟 ratings I have given.
Profile Image for Cathy Geha.
3,651 reviews67 followers
October 10, 2018
The Forgotten Child by Melissa Erin Jackson
A Riley Thomas Mystery #1

Excellent debut novel that was a joy to read! This book was a delight from beginning to end with just enough creepiness and horror without being over the top. With a reluctant medium hiding from her talent and ghosts that want to and do contact her she begins to realize that she might have a gift that will help rather than harm. With one small boy ghost to find peace for, a malevolent serial killer ghost on the prowl, good friends to support her, a creepy stalker, a victim of the serial killer – one that got away and a romance that was normal and healthy and fun to watch develop…well…I have to say this is an author and series I am really looking forward to reading more of!

Thank you to NetGalley and Ringtail Press for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars
Profile Image for Lisa.
477 reviews14 followers
October 10, 2018
The Forgotten Child was an enjoyable mystery/horror book. Riley Thomas has been dragged to spend the weekend on Jordanville Ranch, home of the infamous serial killer Orin Jacobs, for a paranormal activity weekend with her closest friends. Riley, who has been hiding her medium abilities, is contacted by multiple spirits at the ranch and becomes involved solving a 40 year old mystery,

I loved the atmosphere of the beginning of this book. The time at the Ranch was easily the best part of the book. It was creepy with the best kind of tension. I liked how the suspense slowly built, while we got to know the characters and their relationships, both the friendships and the adorable love interest. For me the boo slowed down a little in the middle during some of the investigative part of the story. It didn't hold my interest in the same way. However, the ending ratcheted up again, with a return to the creepiest parts of the book. It was a wild ride of the ending and I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be reading more books in this series if it continues. Great paranormal mystery!!

**Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the watch of this book. All opinions are my own. **
Profile Image for Jennifer Laam.
Author 6 books146 followers
October 11, 2018
I was lucky enough to read an early version of this book and am so happy to see it out in the world! Riley is a wonderfully warm and realistic heroine, "reluctant medium," and sleuth. The scenes between Riley and her friends, and then Riley and her love interest, Michael, are fun and lively, while the paranormal scenes are eerie and suspenseful and the two elements blend seamlessly. THE FORGOTTEN CHILD is a wonderfully promising beginning to the Riley Thomas series and I can't wait to read more.
Profile Image for Anjali.
309 reviews20 followers
May 9, 2021
I had a list of books that I wanted to read for Halloween. This book was a suggestion from my BFF, and it got picked for our Book Club...

We started a readalong, and I literally would wait for midnight to read the next few chapters... Somewhere midway through the book, I just couldn't stop reading... Total page turner... And chills went down my spine in some chapters...

Overall I loved this book, and I'm glad it got picked... Can't wait for more Riley stories...
Profile Image for Colleen.
666 reviews114 followers
October 9, 2018
4 Stars

ARC provided by Ringtail Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Child is an intriguing Paranormal Mystery and notable debut novel. The description caught my eye because it sounded different and refreshing. And this definitely lived up to my expectations.

The story is about twenty-five-year-old Riley Thomas who has strong abilities as a psychic medium but suppresses her gift because a bad experience when she was young. But after years of avoiding anywhere there might be dead people, Riley’s friends talk her into going to an allegedly haunted ranch. In the seventies and eighties, a serial killer used Jordanville Ranch as his base of operation for abducting, mutilating, and murdering girls. But what really happened all those years ago? And did they really find all the victims?

The story is told in third person, past tense around Riley with a few flashback intervals to the killer. It mostly takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Gila National Forest. The setting could have used a bit more description. I couldn’t tell where it was set until it was spelled out. And more description of the Gila National Forest would have amplified the atmosphere because that is definitely a spooky looking place.

The investigation of the mystery took on a broader scope than I expected, but that kept it from just being a haunted house story. Although the plot is slow burning at times, I was interested the entire time and read most of the book in one day.

Riley is an intriguing character. She is strongly gifted at seeing the dead, but is terrified of them. She’s a little awkward at times and inconsistently suffers from social anxiety. But she is an open-hearted and determined. The cast of characters was diverse and interesting. I wasn’t expecting there to be a romance subplot, but I enjoyed it. It was cute without suffocating the rest of the story. And there was a little steaminess thrown in.

The story does have some dark themes since it revolves around the torture and murders committed by the serial killer. It isn’t salaciously graphic, but there was some violent content. The spooky parts were well done. The only bits that occasionally sounded borderline cheesy were where the characters discussed psychic abilities. But it wasn’t too bad. Obviously a story about psychic mediums requires some suspension of belief. But I thoroughly enjoyed The Forgotten Child. It definitely left things open for sequels, and this is intended to be the first in a series. I look forward to reading more of the series and seeing the author grow.

Ease of Reading: 4 Stars
Writing Style: 3 Stars
Characters and Character Development: 4 Stars
Plot Structure and Development: 4 Stars
Level of Captivation: 5 Stars
Originality: 4 Stars
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