Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review: Nightmare by Robin Parrish

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Spooky story with likable characters
Cons: Flash backs to Maia and Jordin's trips don't add much
The Bottom Line
Spooky ghost story
From a Christian perspective
Some pretty good thrills

"The Nightmare is Coming."

I scare easily, but when I'm in the right mood, I enjoy something that is scary.  October is always one of those times, but I decided to pick up Nightmare, the latest novel by Christian novelist Robin Parrish.  It promised to be a ghost story.  I figured I was in for a wild ride, and I was right.

Maia is the daughter of paranormal investigators famous because of their popular TV show.  Growing up in that environment, she's seen it all.  So she's not expecting to be shocked or scared when she visits Ghost Town with two friends.  Ghost Town is the newest amusement park, and it's the hot place.  Everyone wants to go there to experience the scares.  Maia is mostly bored until she walks through the final room of the haunted house.  There, she encounters what appears to be a real ghost that looks like her friend Jordin.  Jordin whispers "The nightmare is coming" and then vanishes.

The next day, Maia learns that Jordin has been missing for the better part of a month.  Jordin's fiancĂ©e, pastor in training Derek, begs Maia to located Jordin.  What has happened to Jordin?  Does it have anything to do with the trips to haunted places that Jordin and Maia took over the course of the last year?

I knew I was in for a good read from the first chapter.  The buildup and tension were great and left my heart pounding.  While the entire book didn't offer that level of scares, there were quite a few intense scenes before the book was over.

The book spends half the time following Maia and Derek's attempts to find Jordin and half the time on Maia and Jordin's trips to haunted locations around the country.  These two storylines alternate chapters, so it is always easy to tell which story we are following.  While I found parts of the trips interesting, I was always sorry to leave behind the current mystery of what had happened to Jordin.  Even when I reached the end of the book, I still wasn't that in to the backstory with Jordin.  I think the book would have been stronger without it.

While this is Robin Parrish's fifth novel with a Christian publishing company, it was the first one where there are overt Christian characters.  And that's in the ghost book.  I did find the discussions between Derek, who doesn't believe in the paranormal at all, and Maia, who believes it is real, very interesting, especially because Maia isn't a strict conservative Christian.  This clash of belief added an extra dimension to the story, one I really liked.

When I first reach the climax, I thought it was over the top.  While there are parts of it that are still a little out there, by the time I was done, I thought it worked well overall and managed to fit into the premise of the story.

The story is written first person from Maia's point of view, which really lets us get to know her.  Jordin and Derek are pretty well developed as well.  Few other characters get as much page time, so they never fully came alive, although I did think they were developed enough for their parts in the story.

The book never fully resolves the issues of the supernatural brought up, but it did get me thinking.  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end to better understand what he was trying to do.

Nightmare was the perfect book to read around Halloween.  It had spooky moments and a very good plot.  If you are looking for something like that, be sure to pick this book up.

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