Evie's Reviews > Wide Open

Wide Open by Deborah Coates
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's review
Jan 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, ghost-story, very-enjoyable, tor

*** Originally posted to: Bookish Blog

Wide Open is a compelling, character-driven mystery with a splash of supernatural that will have you hooked from page one with its evocative and flavorful prose, hot South Dakota atmosphere, and brilliantly complex characters. With her excellent storytelling, Deborah Coates smoothly weaves ghosts, secrets, and magic into a heart pounding tale of one woman's quest to uncover the mystery behind her sister's death. Deeply moving and bone chilling, it's a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

The plot line centers around Hallie Michaels, a soldier in Afghanistan, who arrives in Rapid City on a ten day compassionate leave to attend her sister's funeral. Hallie's sister, Dell, wrecked her car up on a tree. There was no one else around. The local police called it a suicide, but Hallie knows better. She's convinced that her sister would never have taken her own life. Something else must have happened, and Hallie is determined to find out what. And she only has 10 days to do that. Not only is her time extremely limited, she's also haunted by ghosts - of her sister, of a fellow soldier/friend from Afghanistan, and a local woman who disappeared without a trace. Hallie soon learns that there's something disturbing going on in the seemingly peaceful town of Rapid City, and she is the only one who can discover the truth.

I had a wonderful time reading Wide Open. I felt entirely consumed by this book, and the feeling was simply wonderful. First of all, I really loved Deborah's expressive and powerful writing style. It was both beautiful and creepy. Abundant in details, vibrant descriptions, atmospheric scenes and settings. The author really did a fabulous job fleshing out the lead protagonist of this story. Hallie is certainly not a character that you will fall in love with instantly, but rather one that will grow on you over time. She's one tough cookie on the outside, yet sensitive and emotionally fragile girl on the inside. Short tempered, with the penchant for swear words, she never backs down from a fight. She's not a person that cries in a difficult situation. More like someone who gets crazy-pissed. For Hallie, anger is an antidote for pain. She's angry at the army for sending her to Afghanistan. At herself for dying and coming back. At the ghosts for being dead. There are layers upon layers of character building, and the result is simply phenomenal. Hallie is one of the most complex MCs I've ever met in literature. I can't say that I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes, but it was definitely a very interesting and heart breaking experience. I felt her pain and I saw how lost, broken and confused she was. How often do you come across a book that makes you feel all that?

Deborah Coates is a writer of rare intensity. The world she created is mesmerizing, exciting, thrilling and often very scary. I loved exploring it. It was a fascinating journey that I will never forget. The story itself isn't overly complicated, it's the way it is told that really makes you fall in love with it. There are many plot developments that I failed to predict. Many surprises and twist. And I just love a book that keeps me guessing to the end and holds my attention all the way through. Wide Open did all that and more. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and can't wait to see where the author will take us in her next book.
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