Dark Music is paranormal suspense at its best. It’s a page-turner that refuses to be read slowly because its excitement builds with each chapter. But inevitably the thrilling book does end and it leaves the reader wanting more. It’s a strange mix between wanting to read quickly and being sorry when it’s over too soon.
Quinn Matthews purchases a Victorian home in a quiet New Jersey suburb from her cousin Michael for half what the market value would be. It’s a wonderful bargain and Quinn, a home decor writer, plans to restore it to its original glory, and write about the project as well.
But this is no ordinary old home. Her uncle Ed (Michael’s father) was a former owner and he passed away there tragically from a fatal heart attack. Was he literally “scared to death”? This episode opens the book and readers learn before Quinn does that the home needs more than paint and refinishing. It is in need of an exorcism as well.
As soon as the renovation process begins, Quinn hears gunshot noises…classical piano music…and sees eerie messages and figures. It appears she has a latent psychic talent and one (or more) of the former residents of the home is trying to reach her from the spirit world. One such ghost is a dashing classical pianist who lived in the home more than 100 years ago and was apparently murdered. There’s a female ghostly inhabitant, too, and as the story unfolds Quinn believes that this lovely young woman’s mysterious death must be investigated as well.
Add in a neighbor who seems to be mentally ill and the excitement builds. But is the neighbor really as crazy as Quinn thinks, or is he, too, bothered by the ghostly occurrences?
Author E.F. Watkins has a gift for building the ghostly suspense. In most cases her scenes are, for lack of a better phrase, “dead on” in terms of understanding the workings of the paranormal world, though some may find their imagination strained with episodes of otherworldly romance with the living, or ghosts who apparently do dishes and tidy up. Watkins’ ghosts are also adept at leaving computer messages. If you’re into the story (and nearly everyone who reads Dark Music will be) it will seem unusual but perfectly acceptable. And if you’re not so sure about ghost stories to begin with, even Watkins’ expert writing may not convince you.
The best advice is to leave any doubt at the cover of the book and dive in to a deliciously haunting story. Follow along as Quinn Matthews attempts to solve the century-old mysteries of her home while attempting to keep friends, a former boyfriend and workmen from being seriously harmed in the process of restoring her Queen Anne home.
Toward the end of the book there is talk of Quinn adjusting better the next time to her psychic experiences. This sets the tone for a planned series of Quinn Matthews books. Good news indeed to those who enjoy Dark Music.
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