Wow. It’s been a long time since I read something that scared the ever-livin’ you know what out of me as I read it. The anxiety, the butterflies in my stomach, finding myself literally-sitting-on-the-edge-of-my-seat as I read, the pure hatred that I can’t speed read 1,000 words a minute because I have to know what happens next, and the creepy goosebumps because the story is scary and – like while watching any horror movie – the feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just know that things aren’t going to end well…. well The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor had it all in spades. OMG. It was Awe.Some! And I so hope there is a sequel of some sort! I haven’t had a book run me through this particular gamut of emotions since Michael Scott’s Image (and sequel, Reflection). Creepy! I would say Anna Dressed in Blood did this too, but Anna was YA (aka PG-rated) and this one had the added bonus of being adult (between all the blood-draining-from-my-face scary as crap scenes there were some rushing-blood-to-my-face steamy as crap scenes between Austin and Casey), so if you are looking for something totally scary but a little steamy too, this is where it lives!
Austin Cole is the star of a TV show called SCI – Spirit Chaser Investigations – where he and his team investigate homes and other places, looking for ghosts. When an investigation goes wrong at a warehouse and his best psychic (and best friend) ends up injured and refuses to be part of the team anymore, Austin needs to find a replacement. Enter Casey, a tough psychic who steps into place and becomes part of the team. But, the warehouse was just the beginning of a terrifying story. Two more super creepy places are tainted by so much evil that Austin, Casey and the rest of the SCI team have a huge battle to face. There are ghosts, demons, and terrifying exorcisms between the pages. Need to be convinced as to how creepy this book is? All you need to do is look at the cover picture as it sets the perfect tone.
I got goosebumps more than once while reading this. And shivered from the chills plenty of times. The temperature in the rooms with the ghosts was not the only chilling going on while reading this. The settings were downright disturbing and the action while trying to chase the ghosts and/or demons away was excellent. The character building was great, and the scenes with Austin and Casey’s families made their characters so much more real and likeable. Austin, for the most part, is a dream. Ok, maybe he’s a little over the top in a few areas, but really he’s pretty innocent and looking to to make sure Casey is happy. Casey and all the other characters were easy to like and despite the ghostly elements, it was also pretty easy to feel like this was grounded in enough reality to make the story that much scarier. I loved that I was able to picture it all in my mind so easily while reading. This would make a phenomenal scary movie!
Only criticism, in the very first chapter, the first few pages, referring to Austin as “the Spirit Chaser” instead of simply identifying him in that way and then using his name, was a little confusing and lead me to re-reading the first 5 or 6 pages twice. That could have been avoided with a slightly more discerning editor/editing job to those few pages. But, once I caught on to who was who, it was smooth, albeit spooky, sailing.
**spoiler alert** One of the most tragic yet brilliant parts of the story? The heartbreak at the end. This was also part of how I knew I found a book that I loved. The fact that I felt so attached to the characters that the last 10 (or so) chapters were so hard to read as they were so heartbreaking, drove home the fact that I had become invested in the story and the characters. To be honest, I don’t mind sad endings, but the “closure” here, I could have done without as it took things from sad and a little unknown to downright cruel. I think I would have preferred the loose end of not knowing what happened to Austin than the heartbreak when I read the last chapter. It felt like a sucker punch to the gut. Conversely, it again was a win for the overall book because I was able to feel that strongly about the characters and story.
Bottom line, The Spirit Chaser is filled with all the frights, spookiness, sexiness, and wonder of an excellent ghost story. I’m just glad I wasn’t sitting around a campfire having this read to me right before bed, or I might never have gotten to sleep. I loved it!!!