Book Review: The Haunting of Highdown Hall (Psychic Surveys Book #1) by Shani Struthers

Title: The Haunting of Highdown Hall (Psychic Surveys Book #1)
Author: Shani Struthers
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts & Hauntings
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Join the Psychic Surveys team for a pulse pouding, spine chilling journey into the heart of darkness! Perfect for fans of Stephen King, Darcy Coates, and James Herbert.

If you sell your soul to the devil, can you ever get it back?

The latest in a long line of psychically gifted females, Ruby Davis, can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light – or ‘home’ as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it’s a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born.

Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have never been busier. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading – it’s not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star, Cynthia Hart, is still in residence, despite having died in 1958.

Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia, who insists the devil is blocking her path to the light. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia’s world and the darkness that now inhabits it. For the first time in her career, Ruby’s deepest beliefs are challenged.

Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?

The Haunting of Highdown Hall is the first book in the Psychic Surveys series. As a fan of paranormal mysteries, when I saw this book was free for a limited time, I had to pick it up, and I’m glad that I did.

In The Haunting of Highdown Hall, Ruby Davis is the owner of Psychic Surveys, a small band of psychics who go investigate hauntings, perform cleansings, and in general, help people with their ghostly issues. This time around, they’re invited to Highdown Hall, a behemoth of a house that is haunted by the ghost of its previous owner: Cynthia Hart. Back in 1958, Cynthia Hart was a world-famous movie star who unfortunately perished during a Christmas party at her own home, due to a heart attack.

But did Cynthia really die of a heart attack, or is something more sinister going on? And is Cynthia’s spirit the only troubled soul dwelling within the halls of Highdown Hall?

I liked the story overall. It wasn’t scary, so if you’re not doing well with the spooks, but you do enjoy reading about spirits, then it’s a good choice. It reminded me a bit of Ghost Whisperer in that sense – featuring spirits, but not in the scary way. I imagine it’s also a great read for local people, as it described the scenery and surroundings of Ruby’s hometown in great detail. Not that interesting for me, and I skipped several of these paragraphs to get to the meat of the story, but not that off-putting either and it added some flavour to the book.

I also wasn’t convinced by Cash, the male love interest. He was a bit… dull. I do intend to pick up the other books in the series, if I get the chance, and hopefully Cash will become more interesting at times goes on. I do have a feeling he’s hiding something darker – or maybe that’s just my own dark side holding out hope. I’m not sure about the other mysteries in this series: maybe they do grow darker and more terrifying (which I secretely hope) but, at least for this one, there’s a positive message of hope and light hidden in the pages.

Book Review: Devil in the Delta by Rich Newman

16249290Title: Devil in the Delta
Author: Rich Newman
Genre: Non-Fiction / Ghosts & Hauntings
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Llewellyn, Amazon, B&N
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A television that shoots fire. Objects flying through the air. A demonic possession. A ghost hunter’s worst nightmare.

When author Rich Newman first arrives at the battered doublewide trailer deep in the Mississippi Delta, it’s clear that this is no ordinary haunting. Called from Memphis to assist a local ghost hunting team, Newman’s investigation of the Martin house has become his most terrifying and mysterious case to date.
What starts out as a malicious assault quickly spirals into a story of obsession, possession, witchcraft, and murder. When the evidence becomes overwhelming, long-buried memories from Newman’s past come back to haunt him–memories he’d rather forget. Collecting physical evidence, researching the violent history of the property, and interviewing the world’s most famous demonologists, Newman’s investigation of the Martin house plunges him into the darkest depths of the unknown.

Devil in the Delta was a confusing read for me. On the one hand,  I kind of liked the author’s scientific approach, armed with cam recorders and voice recorders and how he’s not overly fond of psychics. He appears analytical and rational, the kind of ghost hunter who I wouldn’t mind inviting into my house if the other side went haywire. If this is Rich Newman’s most terrifying case to date, then I’m actually glad for him, because to me it didn’t sound all that terrifying. All right, some parts of it were enough to give me shivers, but it’s pretty tame all through-out.

Then there were parts of the book that thoroughly dissapointed me. For one, the house didn’t have such a violent past as the blurb made me believe. Secondly, the accusations of witchcraft and demonic possession. It’s obvious from the get-go that the trailer’s inhabitants are after some cash, and it makes their entire story a lot less believable, but thank God the author caught this. However, he jumps to demonic possession rather fast, and also to the witchcraft thing. It’s not because they were storing some items that look like they could be used in witchcraft that anyone was actually practising witchcraft on the premise, and even if they were, that doesn’t instantly mean they invited something evil into their house. It’s these thought-jumps, drawing conclusions where there shouldn’t have been any, that made me wary of this book.

All in all, the writing was good, straightforward, and for the most part the author appears as level-headed and rational and not someone who’s convinced the slightest breeze is a ghost. On the other hand, he draws conclusions fast, blaming demons for everything that remotely goes wrong, and this didn’t work in his favor. An enjoyable read, but the synopsis makes it sound a lot scarier than it is.