Book review: Ghost Light by LeeAnne Hansen

I’d like to thank author LeeAnne Hansen for gifting Ghost Light to me. A 1920s ghost story encompassing murder, romance, national identity and eerie characters, she has delivered a story that is simultaneously scary, witty and sexy. This historical fiction immediately grabs any reader who has fallen in love with literature countless times before reaching LeeAnne’s work. With references to literary greats such as Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe and Ralph Waldo Emerson, there are some great moments of juxtaposition and irony dispersed throughout the story.

Fiona Corrigan and her acting troupe – who have the formation of a small family – are summoned to Scotland while celebrating their final performance of a play that sees ‘Sweet Fee’ acting on her real life love for colleague Patrick Berenger. The journey is horrific, with the troupe becoming deserted and having to walk the rest of the way to a haunted castle and theatre. Immediately, their isolation becomes prominent and the group is forced to become even closer, especially in the faces of outsiders including Patrick’s brother, Sean.

His introduction, along with the introduction of the Berenger family background, certainly sets a high pace of change throughout the novel, with each individual character changing demeanour around the castle and theatre. Fiona’s loyalties and lust quickly change, her best friend Abigail becomes more flirtatious and Patrick becomes bitter and possessive.

Character development, both individually and as a troupe, becomes more complex while a new play is being written – a play that unravels the secrets of the actors and actresses, but also the ‘who done it?’ murder mystery that centralises the narrative. I really enjoyed the genre with a genre style of Ghost Light. Every chapter was exciting and refreshing, with some really haunting parallels between reality and make believe. Rife with sexuality, family secrets, envy, lust and deceit, Ghost Light is an effortless read. With multiple plot twists wrapped around the supernatural, LeeAnne delivers a chilling page turner that demands your attention at every turn.

My main criticism of Ghost Light is that I would have loved for Samuel, the Scotsman who plays somewhat of a fatherly role throughout the narrative, to be developed more fully. A gentle and funny construction that only prods the edges of the story, I feel that there could have been a lot more to his characterisation and plot – more specifically, I wish he could have found romance too. After all, as the most genuine of all characters back in his homeland, I can’t help but feel that he deserved it the most.

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