Paul Herrera finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt he never knew. The woman who shows it to him is the spitting image of his wife, taken from him three years before in a senseless car accident which also took his unborn son. While he deals with the ghosts of a past he cannot let go, there are new ghosts Paul must deal with – alone for the week in the expansive two-story house that he will soon discover holds many secrets. Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world – his sanity.
Ever read a book that makes you think: now this would be a box office sensation? Yeah, Seeing Ghosts inspired that thought in my head, and here’s why…
Patiently Waiting Out Revelations
Garcia has a talent for patiently revealing details. This is the second mystery I’ve read of his where he sets up a dozen or so questions in the plotline, and every detail is revealed as it was meant to be in the story. No detail gives out another, and the story is always wrapped up nicely, every question being answered. Another one of Garcia’s talents is his element of surprise. Just when you think things will turn out one way, it turns out completely different.
What I loved about Seeing Ghosts is that it was so knowledgeable in the occult that I was able to infer what things meant even when Paul (the main character) was clueless. Garcia definitely did his research on this one, and it showed in a successful paranormal plot.
Love His Language
Majority of the notes I jotted down during Seeing Ghosts were just some remarkably beautiful lines. Garcia has this sort of fluency about his writing, a sort of graceful cadence toward perfection, and it makes every sentence in his book so fluid and purposeful. And the imagery he portrays, it’s like, “Why didn’t I think to write it like that?” He has such a simple yet breathtaking way of describing ordinary moods or scenes or actions, for instance: “carcasses of the pizza box” (page 5), or “loitering” at the picture frames (page 6). Just one word can ever so dynamically impact a traditional sentence, and Garcia thinks of that word every time! I love it.
In this book particularly, he mastered the horror element over the mystery. While the book was driven by the secrets of the ghosts and characters, the hidden motive behind Flora’s purpose for Paul being there and the horror of each scene captivated me most. Garcia definitely nailed scenes that shrivel readers in their beds and the tension that surmounts with the unknown. Sort of out of Garcia’s box, but well done.
Some of my favorite horror lines:
- “I marvel at her even, peaceful breathing as I stare at the awful ghost that sits calmly, but menacingly, near the foot of the bed.” (page ix)
- “…all too familiar lightning flashes outside probe into the bedroom and illuminate her. A gust of wind rattles the window briefly.” (page ix)
- “Her tone is firm and reminds me of a wild animal’s growl” (page x)
- “No sound came though, but my skin crawled as if the silence was pregnant with something terrible, against God’s nature” (page 29-30)
- The doorknob “squeaked in my hand as if it were a living thing and I was methodically torturing it” (page 30)
- “Closing my eyes I braced myself. When nothing happened, I opened them to find her leaning directly over me, her face only inches from mine, her expression fiery and intimidating, and I lost my breath.” (page 76)
I could go on forever. It feels as though nearly every sentence is the book is as sensational as those above. The whole use of language was a masterpiece. Garcia always leaves me with that feeling, that his book is literal art, deserving of constant admiration.
What I Loved Most
Definitely a spooky story but it’s also filled with mystery and great dialogue and unfathomably realistic horror. That kind of horror that if you’re reading it at night, realizing how alone you are and how quiet your house is, you might hear Flora whisper to you from the end of your bed. The story maintained a firm grasp on reality while dipping its prose into the paranormal, and because of that groundwork, everything made sense, even the ethereal ending.
Paul was such a phenomenal main character. Living in this haunted house, his reactions to everything were realistically and appropriate. Nothing about him was overdone or underdeveloped. I genuinely enjoyed experiencing this horror through his eyes, feeling what he felt, sharing his thoughts with him. He was a practical man to the end, and I loved him.
Paul (the ghost) was such a success. I’m so glad that this is the character Garcia chose to write for this particular purpose (no spoilers), because it was such an original idea. Something that worked up to the last page. And the victory we felt in the end was so much more powerful because it was innocent. Definitely keep your suspicions about this one. He’s not who you think he is.
Pastor Thomas was so great. He reminded me of the character Gabriel from the Walking Dead. I loved Thomas’ nature, I felt it was very suiting for his role in the church and his role in this story. This character was one Garcia held all the secrets out on until the end. What I loved most, though, was HOW Garcia held out those secrets. It was by the misfortune of timing, which is SO realistic that I fell in love with the problematic circumstances. Paul needed to talk to Thomas about what was going on in the house, but the timing was always off until it just couldn’t be ignored anymore. I LOVED that so much. Love, love, loved how realistic that was.
All the characters served a purpose to further the plot. That’s another thing I love about Garcia’s writing, is that he doesn’t have filler characters or secondary characters just to kill them off. Each one of his characters always holds a puzzle we need to solve the mystery.
Spooks Upon Spooks
As soon as I read the bouncing box in the attic was “seven feet long, two feet wide and made of plywood”, I knew it was a body. Patricia had successfully put a spirit back into a body and it was bouncing around in the attic seeking freedom. I begged Paul, please don’t open it. Run, and don’t open it. This scene was so terrifying. So absolutely terrifying.
That scene and this one:
As I prepared to rise back to my feet, the wind started again. I looked up just in time to see it and realized―it was no wind a tall, but a man. One no longer the man he’d once been. He glowed white and ran past the front of the porch.
Beyond him in the yard were more just like him. I dropped the Kindle. (page 87)
Guys, I can’t. I just…I have nothing. The only real problem I had with the story was how often the characters slept toward the end. It felt like we were constantly yawning, constantly talking about who’s sleeping when. They were waking up and falling asleep throughout the house, which seemed weird that the characters were constantly complaining of being tired, but they were also constantly sleeping or napping. But that was it guys. That minor detail―which only affected maybe ten pages of the entire 203 paged novel―was my only complaint.
This book had me so captivated, so eager to read that I finished it before my Reading Day (Sunday). I carried it everywhere and read it every chance I got. I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. I recommend it to every horror, ghost, paranormal, occult, supernatural lover. Get your copy before October; it’ll make a spectacular Halloween read!