Author ~ Ki Brightly
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 27 June 2016
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.
When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and Owen realizes he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is reacclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.
Ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night are endlessly fascinating for me, but can be a bit of a double edged sword because I genuinely dislike being frightened. However, The Paranaturalist has enough going for it in the blurb to make me think it was worth giving it a try. There’s the whole paranormal aspect, then the tried and tested gay romance line plus the reality TV angle, about which I know nothing, so I guessed it would probably be educational too.
The story starts with a seriously eerie prologue where protagonist Joe, then twelve years old, finally cracks under the pressure of literally seeing dead people all the time and begs his guardian spirit to take away this gift/curse, so he can live a normal life. If the rest of the book had been as scary as this bit I doubt if I would have been able to finish it! It picks up many years later where Joe is, ironically, fronting a TV show about hauntings with the help of his best friend and object of unrequited lust, Scott, a medium, Margot and her girlfriend, Cherry, who is also their ace sound recordist. Joe’s gift, while diminished, is enough for him to be able to choose to sense other worldly entities and actually see ghosts if he concentrates and they wish to be seen. His drive to prove the truth of the hauntings he investigates puts him in very grave danger from which he is rescued by the other protagonist, Owen. Owen is another medium who works in a shop that sells herbs and crystals and lives in a house inhabited by a brilliant mix of bohemian characters. He too has a guardian spirit, and Joe is his object of unrequited lust. The horrific experience Joe endures strips away the dampening effect and leaves him open to, and potentially prey to, all kinds of supernatural interference. Owen feels he should step in to stop Joe from being hurt again, but how far should he allow his attraction to interfere with his mentoring relationship?
Actually, the above is just the tip of the ice berg, plot wise. This is a LONG book and a lot goes on within it. Written in first person, present tense, alternating point of view, it had a real time feel to it and there were times that this made it drag a bit for me. The protagonists were very given to thinking over their situations. Every emotional nuance, every twitch and quiver of reaction and OMG they spent so much time adjusting their pants! There were times, especially when lives were on the line, when I wanted to slap both the protagonists and tell them to get on with things. Joe came over as being a bit floppy and easily imposed upon, mostly by Scott, and Owen had a hard edge to him that wasn’t always attractive. His own gifts, while less that Joe’s unguarded clarity, came with the knowledge of how dangerous the work they were doing could be but he didn’t seem particularly concerned with coaching Joe in how to protect himself. There were also points of interaction with the police that left me frowning.
However, I loved the interactions between the TV show crew, their petty rivalries and Scott’s vicious exploitation of Joe’s fondness for him. I also loved Owen’s associates – his fiery boss, his mélange of laid back housemates, his cousins and customers. Some of the descriptions of paranormal encounters were beautifully described, if very sad. I adored the guardian - angels? spirits? - and would love to see more of them. Joe and Owen seemed a good match, even though it took them a while to get there. So on the whole it was a solid read, quite good fun and if there’s a sequel to the story I’d be happy to read it.
Connect with Ki Brightly
Ki Brightly lives and works in Erie, PA. Ki takes on more projects than are probably healthy, beach bums during the summer months, and spends time with family whenever possible.