Let the ghosts speak

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Let the ghosts speak

Author:  

Bryan Davis

Publisher:

Mountain Brook Fire (an imprint of Mountain Brook Ink)

Date:

April 15, 2020

Format:

Paperback

Length:

245 pages

OVERVIEW

The year is 1860, and Justin Trotter is a poor English immigrant living in Paris. His only real hopes are to make enough money to care for his blind sister, and he doesn’t expect much to happen when his roommate Marc invites him to a masquerade party at an abandoned school. But when Justin accidently offends Marc’s mother in front of other guests, he hides out in the library waiting for his friend to smooth things over. There he meets a group of mysterious people who must be other guests. After all, why would someone dress like and claim to be Joan of Arc except as a party game? By the night’s end, Marc’s mother is found dead and all fingers point to Justin as the murderer. Will the mysterious people help Justin find out the truth? And what if these people are something more than natural?

Davis pays a bit of tribute to 19th-century writing styles, phrasing the story as a long letter written by the main character to his mother that recollecting his strange experiences. The result sounds a little bit like the works of acclaimed ghost story writer M.R. James, but without the academic tone that makes James’ work so dense at times. Davis is clearly aiming for homage, not recreation, so the story feels old-fashioned but is still easy to read. Genre-wise though, the book is a lot more than just a ghost story. Davis combines elements from detective fiction as well, creating a gothic mystery not unlike The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Just like that classic book, Davis knows just when to follow and when to subvert tropes from both genres to create something truly surprising. 

A compelling tale about suffering, hope and how death leads us to face what we believe about both concepts.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Readers who like ghost stories, detective mysteries, horror or thriller stories. Particularly recommended for readers who enjoy ghost stories and gothic fiction (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, etc.).

Christian Impact

Readers who are very literal thinkers may be annoyed at a Christian Fiction novel that talks about ghosts, since it’s a hazy subject Biblically speaking. However, the existence of ghosts has been debated for ages and been heckled at least as often as it’s been taken seriously. So it’s not exactly difficult, no matter what your theological beliefs are, to accept the idea as a plot device and just read the story.

Once you approach the story on that level, the ways Davis uses the concept turn out to be quite fascinating. He creates ghostly characters who ponder why they haven’t gone to heaven yet, why some of them have been given a second chance at redemption, and what concepts like redemption, hope and mercy even mean. This allows Davis to have characters who dialogue (and monologue) about spiritual ideas, and yet those discussions never feel tacked on. The fact the characters are dead and yet still around makes their discussions seem natural.

Davis also uses the idea of ghosts, particularly ghosts of martyrs, to examine a theme most Christian Fiction novels never address: do we still hope even if things never turn around? We can hope when we’re sure God will vindicate us in this life, but what if he doesn’t and by all earthly standards it seems evil has triumphed? Do we really believe that justice is the Lord’s and that in the end, maybe despite all evidence to the contrary, all will be made well? Few Christian novels examine this question because it doesn’t seem very inspiring. Davis dares to go into that territory and shows recognizing good doesn’t always triumph in this life, but that’s not the point, is actually fulfilling in a way that “inspiring Christian stories” can never achieve.

Let the Ghosts Speak


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