Southern Spirits

Main Characters:

Verity – ex-bride-to-be turned ghost seer.  Really a graphics designer who gets roped into trying to rid a property of some ghosts so she can earn the money she needs to keep her Grandmother’s house (and her home) from being sold to pay off the debt that resulted from her calling off her wedding at the last minute.

Ellis – brother of Verity’s ex.  Town police officer and owner of the property which used to be a distillery.  Not anything like his jerk of a brother.

Frankie – first ghost Verity meets.  He is bound to her property and he helps connect Verity to the spirit world in an attempt to keep her house.

Melody – Verity’s sister.  She works for the town library and is a super researcher.

Lucy – Verity’s pet skunk.

Locations: Sugarland, Tennessee

Main Premise:  Verity has lost everything because of an “incident” – she left her ex-fiance at the alter because he was a cheating abusive (not to her, but to Verity’s sister) jerk.  And she got stuck with the bill for the wedding.  And she is in dire straights because of it – she’s about to loose her house.  She sells all her possessions and dumps the ashes found in an urn on her rosebushes.  She discovers Frankie, the ghost of a 1920s gangster whose ashes she grounded on her property when she dumped, then watered, them.  She is hired by Ellis, the brother of her ex, to rid his property of one or more ghosts because he is trying to fix the place up and open it as a restaurant, conference center (etc.).  Turns out that there’s an angry spirit and some sort of mystery involved.

Who dun it?  The Mayor!! Poor (fake) crippled war-vet.

How it ended:  Turns out that not only is there probably no jewels hidden on the property, but the mayor was faking his injury.  He murdered a girl years ago, before marrying his ex-wife.  When he learned that Ellis was renovating, he tried to dig up her bones and move them so no one would ever know.  He captured Ellis and Verity but with the help of the ghosts, specifically the ghost of the girl he killed, Joy, they escape and get him arrested.  Verity gets to keep her house.  And she has a date with Ellis.

Other important things to remember for later:  Rules of this universe let Verity see the ghosts by “using” Frankie’s (or another ghosts) energy.  It take a strong ghost to materialize, even more to do so in the day.  Poltergeists are super angry pissed off ghosts.  Frankie is stuck to his urn until Verity can figure out a way to “un-ground” the rest of his ashes from her rosebushes.

Review:  I want to thank Netgalley again for access to yet another wonderful title – one that has made my “to be read” pile significantly larger because if the other stuff by Angie Fox is as much fun as Southern Spirits, then I have a lot more reading to do! I mean, there are a number of series that Ms. Fox has written and it looks like, fingers crossed, that there will be another related to Southern Spirits (the end page with other books lists this installment under “The Southern Ghost Hunter” heading!). Yippeee!

I am a big fan of books like this – quick, fun, easy to read, an engaging mystery, and characters that are easy to like. A little bit of romance and a little bit more of the paranormal, and I am hooked. The final ingredient, which sometimes feels like the cherry on the cake is good writing. I read some bad stuff, and very often continue to read that book or series anyway. Call me a masochist (it’s bad but I like it!) or maybe an optimist (things will get better?) but it usually takes a lot to get me to stop reading something. How can good writing be the dessert course? Well, even bad writers can have fun books, good stories and/or characters. Ok, so I am in a Twi-bashing kind of mood lately. They were entertaining and fun reads. But, lets face it, they were about sparkly vampires. I mean, really, who thinks they were well written? Or Fifty Shades – they may have been steamy but they were also the model for a course in contradiction and bad writing.

Not the case here! Verity, a girl hard on her luck because of a jerk of an ex-fiance, happens to change her life when she dumps an urn full of the ashes of a 1920s gangster on her rose bushes. And then waters said rose bushes. And ends up with a gangster ghost, grounded to her and her property. Property that she is trying to save. So, she jumps into a mystery now that she has a connection to the spirit world, in an attempt to make the money she needs to save her home. The gangster is funny, Verity doesn’t shy from danger and is sarcastic and witty, the dialogue between characters is amusing and feels real. Melody, Verity’s sister is a great tool for info (she’s the Hermoine of this story, being the resident librarian) and Ellis is the hunk who hires Verity and he was pretty fun to conjure in my brain.

The story isn’t super complicated – they never really are in this genre (cozy mystery is where I believe it sits, at least that’s where I have categorized it). But the paranormal spin keeps it fun and lets things happen which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. I was reminded very much of Madelyn Alt’s Betwitching Series (which I miss terribly, by the way – I still have fingers crossed that In Charm’s Way will eventually grace the book stores but I may be delusional on that front) or H.P. Mallory’s stuff (I am only one book into the Dulcie O’Neil series, but loved the first one). We see everything from Verity’s perspective and she’s a great companion. Never mind the fact that she has a pet skunk (yes, skunk!!! Lucy. Love. It.) and isn’t shy about that. She has just enough personality and we see just enough of her for me to think “move over Pepe Le Pew”.

Then, we have a little tiny hint of romance between Verity and Ellis, and that too keeps things interesting. Just enough suspense and mystery to be alluring and addictive. The ground rules for the paranormal world were solidly established and that was a relief. The story, with the backdrop of the Southern Spirit’s distillery, was just spooky enough to keep me furiously reading. Can’t go to bed right after the ghost attacks, after all! A toast is in order: here’s to Southern Spirits, and hopefully more spooky fun in A Ghostly Gift!

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