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Haunting in Hartley by Janice Tremayne
I received this book for free. This does not impact my review in any shape or form.
Haunting in Hartley, by Janice Tremayne, is a gothic horror novel about a young woman who must overcome a malevolent entity that threatens to destroy her loved ones. Clarisse and her husband, Harry, are currently visiting Hartley in Australia. They decide to take a tour with Paranormal Jack, an eccentric man who, much like his name, takes an interest in ghosts and other nightmarish beings. After Harry and Jack run into the supposed ghost of Father Grimaldi, Jack suddenly dies. With time running out, and Harry’s life on the line, Clarisse must find a way to defeat this evil entity that gleefully wants to destroy them all.
I’m not going to lie, I definitely empathize with the phantom. We’ve seen the victims he’s gathered, people who have experienced loss, trauma, and grief. Although he was parasitic, I could understand how he was able to lure them in; after all, everyone wanted a safe place to belong, somewhere where they can’t be hurt again. It made sense for Eleanor and Little Charlie. But even so, Tremayne reminds us of the phantom’s darkness, that at the end of the day, it doesn’t care about anyone else but itself. It wants to lure people in, people who have a certain innocence to them, if only to be corrupted. Perhaps the devil behind it feels that the more light it consumes, the more likely it’ll get into heaven. The same could be said with the Catholic Church. Despite the facade it puts up, it nourishes sin more than forgives it. And while so many, like Father O’Hara, may seek said forgiveness, in the end they’re lost. They can’t hope to find it, no matter how many times they lie to themselves. It’s the same with the phantom.
I also enjoyed the concept of the chest being a sort of Pandora’s Box intertwined with a Faustian contract. It promises you everything. It lets you see into the future, bring wealth and power beyond your wildest imagination, and yet at the end of it, you’d be lost to it. I’m not going to lie; there are a lot of people right now who would give anything to have that kind of power, what with the economy and all. Moreover, the fact that we’ve seen how corrupt religious institutions can be, regardless of affiliation, can definitely push us into that direction. It’s why we have to have strong morals, why, no matter what tempts us, we need to keep moving forward.
The editing could definitely use a lot of work, especially since I felt there were more than a few repetitive phrases. The sentences could’ve flown smoother, and there are times when I felt the author was telling me what was going on, rather than showing me. Despite that, I absolutely loved the plot. I liked how intricate the details were, as well as the descriptions of the ghosts. I would’ve preferred the ending be more fleshed out, but nonetheless, this was a solid book. As such, I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
A town under siege. A malignant force plaguing its people. Can this warrior for good cleanse the sickness before they all fall prey to darkness?
Clarisse Garcia walks the arduous path of a spirit hunter. Arriving in the small Australian township of Hartley for work, she immediately senses the area is mired in a centuries-old curse. And when a local paranormal expert shares his evidence, the prescient woman finds herself face to face with a malevolent demon.
Flirting with danger, Clarisse engages in a battle of wits with the wicked creature. But even as she fends off the foul manifestation’s attempts to sour her faith, she fears she may never escape her high-stakes parlay with evil incarnate.
Can she maintain her grip on sanity before the tight-knit community is doomed?
Haunting in Hartley is the second standalone book in the spine-chilling Haunting Clarisse supernatural horror series. If you like pulse-pounding tension, scarily dark corners, and thought-provoking dilemmas, then you’ll love Janice Tremayne’s unsettling story.
Buy Haunting in Hartley to outsmart a devil today!
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/m2ElDR
Here’s an excerpt from the book…
Before Father Grimaldi took another step, he heard screeching on the wall directly in front of him. He gulped while his heart started thumping harder. It had been an ominous sound, designed to grab his attention.
He took a deep breath and held it while looking disconcertingly toward the wall. A misty haze of light captured his attention with speckles of dust forming patterns of floating particles. The incandescent light came from nowhere, as there were no windows in this room.
He lifted his lamp above shoulder height to improve his view in finding where the uncanny sound had come from when, out of nowhere, an icy hand tapped him on his right shoulder then patted him on his back. He stood frozen and tense as he gripped his hands into fists, his heart racing and eyes glued directly in front of him. He shook his shoulders more than once as a tickle went up his spine. It had a skeleton-like feel, devoid of any life or tenderness. It was the hand of a dead man, but with the metaphysical qualities to touch.
He turned around sharply to confront the phantom, almost losing his grip on the lamp, to find nothing but darkness in front of him. Was it playing games to appease itself? To control the emotions of others wary of its presence?
“They send a man of God to do their dirty work?” said the phantom in an old English accent. “Well, speak up, man of the robe … Announce yourself!”
Father Grimaldi turned toward the voice next to the cobalt blue chest. However, the sound filled the room like an echo chamber in a stereophonic tone.
“Yes, it is I … Father Grimaldi. And who may you be?”
“I am whatever you want me to be … Sometimes, I am something, and other times, I’m nothing … a transient soul, my dear Father, caught up in a sinister game of trickery by the devil.”
A faint image of a phantom appeared above the chest—a bearded, middle-aged man with a vintage baker boy cap and a dark grey, double-breasted coat. The phantom was not steady, phasing in and out, but one thing was for sure: it was like looking through a glass window.
“I don’t understand this game you are talking about?” said Father Grimaldi. The lamp was trembling in his right hand, and he gripped the brass skeleton key with so much zeal that it left a red imprint on the palm of his left hand.
“I am here because I have the power to see everything … before, now, and into the future. But it’s seeing the future that torments my soul the most.” The phantom looked toward Father Grimaldi and pointed at him. “You will not find an ornate cross here, my dear priest.”
“You know why I am here?” Father Grimaldi was surprised.
“And if you think that was just good fortune, I also know why Father O’Hara sent you here … like he did with all the other priests—to cover his filthy tracks.”
There was an excruciating silence, and then … “You know of Father O’Hara?”
“Oh, do I know him? More than you think. And if you thought the devil was my only embodiment, have a look at your flock where he lives behind the robe to cover up his dubious deeds.”
“So, why did he send me here if there is no cross?” Father Grimaldi asked.
“I am not your advisor, my dear priest; I only tell you the way it is. He knows you are a troubled man of the Church, and he fought against your transfer to this orphanage.” The phantom stood up, six-foot-tall, and transformed above the chest effortlessly, looking toward Father Grimaldi with vicious red eyes and sabre-like teeth.
“I seek no quarrel with you, evil spirit. I am here because I was sent to fetch an ornate cross and will leave you be.”
The phantom rattled in anger with the howl of a wolf, blowing so strongly that it elevated Father Grimaldi off the ground, a foot into the air, then slammed him back onto the dusty cobblestone floor.
“Nobody leaves this den of dark souls unless I say so!” The phantom was angered by Father Grimaldi’s proclamation.
The door behind Father Grimaldi slammed shut, the echoes vibrating and filling the room with a thumping clap. Everything shook, even the floor beneath him.
Father Grimaldi placed his hands over his ears to limit the noise. Then he got off the ground, heart racing and thumping, and dusted the grime off his cloak. Father Grimaldi did not want to show the phantom that he was intimidated by his outburst.
“So, what do you want? I assume you are seeking something from me, if you won’t let me go freely.”
“You are a clever man, dear priest, but don’t get too ahead of yourself. Better men have tried and failed, and now they grace the fires of hell, ripped into an everlasting dance of the inferno.” The dark spirit hesitated for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “I have a proposition for you, my dear priest.”
“And what might that be?”
“It is foretold that on the eighth day of the eight month, you will be stricken by a mysterious illness. It will be a condition that your doctors cannot diagnose because they are looking in the wrong place. On the eighth day, you will slip into a coma.”
Father Grimaldi swallowed and clenched his hands as he stood up straight, looking directly at the phantom. “You are predicting my death? That is impossible.”
“My dear priest, I don’t need to predict because I already know.” The phantom wavered as his apparition disappeared and reappeared again, faintly, as it struggled to maintain a consistent presence.
“On your death bed, you will beg me to save you. I do not need to do anything now. It will happen, I guarantee you. But I will ensure the good doctors find the right diagnosis to spare your life.”
“And for what? What do you seek in return?” Father clutched the skeleton key stronger than ever before. A trickle of blood dripped from his palm and onto the pebble stone below.
“You are a man of faith and believe in the everlasting. You await your God at the gates of heaven when your body passes from the physical state to the spiritual. And like all mortal souls, you will fear death as you reach your final breath and cling to life any way you can.”
“I have no fear of death. I will embrace it when my time comes, unlike your fanciful explanation.” Father Grimaldi stood fast and lifted his lantern to get a better view of the apparition.
“Ha-ha … Think what you like. When your time comes, you will beg me to save your life. In return, you will become the keeper of my powers, as contained in this chest of everything before it. You will agree to release me from my life of misery in favor of your life.” The spirit of dark souls pointed toward him with his right arm bending slightly. “You will live on and on, with new wisdom never imagined, wealth, power—anything you want!”
“So, you brought me here to negotiate my life with you,” said Father Grimaldi. “Do you think I will trade my soul with you, a spirit of dark souls?”
“Imagine the power you will have, to foresee any future events, unlimited and only contained by your lack of imagination. You can be anyone you want to be in return. All you need is to become the keeper of the cobalt blue chest.”
“You make it sound attractive, but I’m aware you spin your words like a salesman. It’s the devil’s work, and I won’t be convinced by your enthusiasm for the benefits of this dastardly life you inherited.”
Father Grimaldi’s rejection angered the petulant phantom. In a split-second, the face of the spirit appeared directly before him with clown-like eyes, bolded in dark eyeliner, and a white face, with sabre teeth, and the fury of a wild dog. Red droplets of blood fell from its mouth, and its tongue dangled in and out like a ferocious animal sucking its lips. His head was so close to Father Grimaldi that his pointed nose touched the priest’s forehead and thick, green saliva dripped onto his cheekbone like icy-cold slime. Purplish, protruding veins covered the fearsome expression, bulging out with every taunt of anger. The smell was like rotting corpses, making Father Grimaldi cough profusely. The handkerchief that covered his face could not stop the caustic odor from penetrating his lungs.
“Do you believe me now, my dear priest? Don’t mock me again, or I will unleash the strength of a hundred demons to devour your purified soul.”
AUTHOR: Janice Tremayne
TITLE: Haunting in Hartley
GENRE: Paranormal Thriller, Horror
RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2020
PUBLISHER: Millport Press
OUR RATING: 3.5 stars
REVIEWED BY: Robin G.
Guest Blogger/Reviewer Bio:
My pen name is Robin Goodfellow. I fell in love with reading after I picked up Fallen by Lauren Kate. I am currently a licensed substance abuse counselor and LPC-A (although I hope to be an LPC soon). I was also a former math and special education teacher. Although I tried going to medical school, it didn’t work out. On the bright side, I’ve got more time for reading and writing! Mental health is a personal passion of mine, as is crochet, and annoying my husband.
Awesome. Thanks for this, Robin, and for stopping by the blog! :)
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