Book Review: Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

18403300Title: Ruby Hill

Author: Sarah Ballance

Genre: Romance, Horror, Novella

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.

Novellas are usually a hit or miss. Ruby Hill was a definite miss. It’s the first story I read from the Entangled Ever After line, and I’d kind of expected it to be better.

The story is all over the place. Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Asylum for as long as she can remember. It’s an abandoned institute, once home of cruel experiments, torture and doctors who prefered hurting their patients over helping them. She works in a ghost hunting show, and as a gifted medium, has let tons of cases and ghost hunts.

She’s not prepared to meet Corbin Malone however. Corbin is a cop, a born skeptic, and he’s reluctant about letting ghost hunters on the scene, even though the rest of the force thinks it’s their only chance, given how many people have died in Ruby Hill Asylum over the last few years, including Corbin’s own brother.

Corbin and Ashley used to date, and that brings forth more complications than either of them can handle on the most stressful night of their lives.

From the plot, you can probably gather that this book set up to be a complicated, intriguing read, and that it’s almost impossible to cover so much subject matter in a novella. You’d be right. It doesn’t work. Too much is thrown in, too many subplots are never investigated, and the story goes nowhere. The characters are as one-dimensional as they can get. Ashley is just there. If we get any emotions from here, than they’re told, not shown. Corbin has a little more emotional reaction, but even he remains dull and boring.

It’s never explained why the asylum is haunted, or why these ghosts suddenly have the ability to actually kill people. There’s no atmosphere because the story is rushed, which makes this book about as scary as watching a Disney movie. The romance is unbelievable, and it’s incredibly rushed as well.

I felt no connection to the story or characters, which was double dissapointing. First, because the story had a lot of potential – insane asylum, murders, ghost hunters, what could possibly go wrong? – and because this sounded like it would be right up my alley. I love gothic horror, and from the description, that’s what it would be.

It ended up being a dull and boring read, and it was way too rushed to be intriguing. If they’d made this into a full-length novel, it probably would’ve been a lot better. As it stands now, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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