I like a good ghost story, especially one which delivers an interesting story along with the thrills and chills. Although I've not read anything by this author before, Hunter's Dawn: Laying the Ghosts turned out to be an interesting story of love, loss and skepticism.
The story that begins this book is a bit of an old one, I suppose. Jack, a professor of paranormal phenomena who spends his time debunking ghostly sightings, is called to the house of an old lady who is experiencing some odd events, such as doors opening by themselves and strange murmuring noises. Before he can get started a young man, Casey, turns up at the house claiming that his 'spirit guide' sent him to help the lady with her haunting. There's an instant antagonism between the two men. Jack thinks that Casey is a con-man, out to fool an old lady, and Casey finds Jack's smug insistence on proving that ghosts don't exist, infuriating. They are both shocked when the discovery of an old memento mori brooch sets off a violent manifestation which almost kills Jack. After that both men agree to join forces to find out who is connected to the broach and how they can begin to release the spirit.
Although we begin the book on familiar territory it is after this point that the story starts to take on a more unique spin. We learn, for example, that Casey's spirit guide is his mother, who died when Casey was a boy. She has stayed to watch over him and help develop his gift for seeing and communicating with ghosts. The relationship between Casey and his mother was both tender and also a little weird. She communicates with him by his thoughts and the occasional manifestation. Casey doesn't seem to mind that she is in his head all the time - even when he starts to become intimate with Jack, but I found it a little odd and perhaps intrusive. Casey is quite a shy man who has had a lot of disappointment in his life. Because of his abilities he has found it difficult to maintain friendships and has little or no experience when it comes to relationships. This made him oversensitive and liable to think the worst in his dealings with Jack. At first this was understandable, but after a while this aspect of Casey's personality started to grate a little.
Out of the two men I think I liked Jack the most. It was amusing and somewhat gratifying to see his smug, scholarly outlook come crashing down around his ears. He finds Casey both enticing, bewildering and a little frightening but I admired his determination to give their relationship a go, despite Casey's uneven temper at times. One area which brought out most of my compassion for Jack was in his grief over the death of his lover. The fact that Paul had been so much older than Jack was a nice change from usual and I felt the author had struck a nice balance between showing how much Jack had been affected by Paul's death and his willingness to move on in his relationship with Casey.
In term of characters this was a pretty couple intensive book. There are few secondary characters other than Casey's mother and a couple of others and most of the book is spent in the company of these two men. I liked that Jack had a role reversal in his relationship with Casey, from being the younger inexperienced partner to the one who had to take the lead. This was done with sensitivity and good humour, leading to sensual and tender sex scenes. If I have any complaints about them it would be that Jack was the one who had to make a number of adjustments to be with Casey and it would have been nice if Casey had made some changes or sacrifices too.
The paranormal aspects of this book were done well and it was easy to picture all that was happening. I find this a bonus in paranormals because I've read quite a number which end with a confusing jumble of paranormal occurrences. Thankfully this didn't happen with this book and whilst the scenes involving the ghost were exciting, they weren't overly scary for those of you who don't like horror too much.
I finished this book feeling that I was glad that I had taken a chance on this author. The book was well written, fast paced, with interesting characters and some unusual paranormal aspects. Hunter's Dawn: Laying the Ghosts is a book I would recommend to those who like paranormal ghost stories and an 'opposites attract' storyline and it gets a grade of 'Very Good' from me.