Here’s another excellent review from Theresa!
Haunted- David Ash Book #1 (Release Date: 1989)
Three nights of terror at the house called Edbrook. Three nights in which David Ash, there to investigate a haunting will be victim of horrifying and maleficent games. Three nights in which he will face the blood-chilling enigma of his own past. Three nights before Edbrook’s dreadful secret will be revealed, and the true nightmare will begin. Remember with fear!
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On one hand this book moves quickly. And, Herbert’s descriptions are exceptional—extremely engaging of the senses. It’s really easy to get lost in the setting and the paranormal happenings. For those reasons I really recommend this novel. Apparently scads of readers agree.
I do have a few criticisms, however. The protagonist, David Ash is not the most likeable. Not that the main character has to be, but he doesn’t have much going for him. He’s kind of a wet noodle the entire book. In light of his vices of smoking and drinking on the job, so to speak, I wish he had a bit more personality. In addition, he’s a skeptic, which I get, but that also adds to his being a fuddy duddy. It’s a wonder that he’s such a hit with the ladies (two sexual encounters in this book alone). Thankfully, we do get a backstory involving a tragic accident when his sister dies. That gives Ash some depth and relatability. It’s also a reason why he’s so emotionally unavailable. Nonetheless, for most of the read, I struggled to care about him.
Another thing that’s off-putting for me is the shift in point of view. The story would’ve been so much better without the switches to two other characters’ viewpoints. It doesn’t really add much to the plotline. I understand we get a contrast to Ash’s personality, as his two partners are believers of the supernatural (and a bit more lovable). And, there’s some suspense built as they worry about his well-being. But in the end, it’s really unnecessary. In general, I feel there are too many characters in the story. At Edbrook, we really don’t need to read about the aunt and multiple siblings, but that might be just me. Fewer characters would have been more effective.
There are also some unneeded scenes, such as the flashback to a séance Ash experienced with one of Ash’s partners (a psychic). I can see that Herbert wanted to give us some insight regarding the protagonist’s ability to debunk hauntings. That fact makes us wonder if what’s occurring at Edbrook is really paranormal, or if Ash will be able to pull a Scooby Doo when it’s all said and done. However, if there’d been a tie-in at the end of the story, I think this scene would have worked better. Be warned there are a couple of these loose ends in the novel. This is not to say that there aren’t some really great scenes that surprised me, because there are. When Ash experiences a fire in the cellar is an example.
Speaking of loose ends, though, I have issues with the conclusion (I promise no spoilers). All in all, I really dug the twist. We get a few hints leading up to it, if you are a careful enough reader. Nonetheless, the logistics of what happens is not sufficiently explained. We’re just supposed to suspend our disbelief, which on one hand I’m okay with. On the other hand, Ash goes through great lengths to investigate the haunting. I expected a more thorough justification for the events. Perhaps I’m digging too deep. I’d be interested to know if other readers felt the same.
All in all, there’s enough in this book to pick it up. It’s fast-paced and fun. And that’s what most people want in their recreational reading.