I’ve decided that I am a fan of the books that come out of Paper Lantern Lit. I loved Venom. I loved Meant To Be. So, it stands to reason that I would end up loving Notes From Ghost Town by Kate Ellison. Unfortunately, I thought that the book did not exactly live up to my expectations. There were some things that Ellison’s sophomore novel did very, very well and other things that leave me feeling unconvinced, if that makes sense. Notes From Ghost Town is many things: a ghost story, a contemporary story, a story of love and loss, a story of family.
Olivia’s boyfriend, Lucas Stern, is found brutally murdered. Her mother, someone who has a mental illness, is the main suspect. Olivia does not think it was her mother. THEN, Lucas’s ghost shows up and starts giving Olivia hints about his murder, so that she can unravel the mystery of who his true killer is. Along the way, Notes From Ghost Town is about Olivia’s grieving, she’s very, very depressed about what has happened. She also is scared witless because she thinks that she will inherit her mother’s mental illness as she can no longer see in color, but only in black and white. Weaved in with all this internal turmoil is the fact that a boy becomes romantically interested in Olivia – and he’s totally not her type – he’s from a wealthy family and attends prep school. There’s definitely a lot going on in Ellison’s book, but it does not really detract from the book at all. Instead, it just makes the book more interesting.
Olivia is a fascinating character. She is complicated. She is complex. She’s not easy – in that she is deeply flawed and hurt and lashes out. There are times where she is hard to like, but as a main character she does a great job of carrying the book. I found myself hoping she would find her colors again. I found myself hoping she would allow herself to move beyond what is essentially a terrible tragedy.
What did not work for me within Notes From Ghost Town was the romance. I really thought the romance between Olivia and the new, interested guy seemed totally forced. I just did not feel their chemistry and it seemed like Olivia was with him just to be with someone, if that makes sense. It really seemed like she was not entirely over Stern (her nickname for Lucas). And, I understand that it’s really hard to let go, but there were times when his ghost showed up that I was like wahhhh come back to life and well, it’s just interesting that she has way more chemistry with a dead person where there is no possibility there than with a flesh and blood person. I don’t know, I just totally felt meh and none of the tension or the tingles that go along with a well-written romance.
Yet, the book does excel when it comes to writing style. I thought Ellison did setting very well. The book is set in Florida and you can almost feel a stifling sort of humidity waft right off the pages. I loved that I got a real sense of place from reading Notes From Ghost Town. I also thought that the plot and the story felt unique and not like something I had read before. I loved that this book was standalone and firmly wrapped everything up. However, it seems like so much was going on that as a reader, I was overwhelmed. While I did not love Notes From Ghost Town, I think that technically it’s a good book and one that I would not hesitate to recommend to people looking for a good mystery and ghost story.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher