Today is my stop on the book tour for ghost story The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power. Thank you very much to Blackthorn Book Tours and the author for providing me with a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Print length: 351 pages
Age range: This is an adult book but suitable for mature teens age 16+
Trigger warnings: Violent deaths, ghosts, domestic violence, brief reference to severe
self harm by a child; pet death.
Trust No One. Especially your neighbors.
Rachel Drake is on the run from the man who killed her husband. She never leaves her safe haven in an anonymous doorman building, until one night a phone call sends her running. On her way to the garage, she is murdered in the elevator. But her story doesn’t end there. She finds herself in the afterlife, tethered to her death spot, her reach tied to the adjacent apartments. As she rides the elevator up and down, the lives of the residents intertwine. Every one of them has a dark secret. An aging trophy wife whose husband strays. A surgeon guarding a locked room. A TV medium who may be a fraud. An ordinary man with a mysterious hobby. Compelled to spend eternity observing her neighbors, she realizes that any one of them could be her killer. And then, her best friend shows up to investigate her murder.
Praise for The Ghosts of Thorwald Place
“The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is a creative, compulsively readable mystery—haunted by strange entities and told from the unique perspective of a ghost. Tied to the elevator where she died, Rachel tries to solve her own murder, leading us through a maze of suspicious characters harboring their own secrets. I couldn’t put it down.” –Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us
“[An] enticing debut . . . Distinctive characters complement the original plot. Power is off to a promising start.” –Publishers Weekly
“This is a beautifully crafted and entertaining whodunnit, with the ghost of the victim as the frustrated detective – much compromised by being dead, spectrally tethered to the lift where she was killed, generally invisible and quite unable to communicate with the living….
The characters here are delicious, the premise inventive. For a book about a dead woman, with more than a few tragedies lurking in the shadows, it’s surprisingly life affirming. In fact, this is a glorious novel. You’d have to be dead not to enjoy it.” –Carly Rheilan, Author of Asylum, Birthrights.
Set in modern day Toronto, Canada, The Ghosts of Thorwald Place was gripping right from the get-go! A ghost story with a difference, the main protagonist, ‘Rachel Drake’ is alive at the beginning of the story, yet the reader soon learns she is in hiding from someone dangerous and has changed her name from Kae to make it harder for him to find her. Before long he has tracked her down and she is murdered in the elevator of her apartment block. Now a ghost, she finds herself tethered to the elevator going up and down between the floors whenever the elevator does:
Rush hour has an entirely new meaning to me now. I’m pulled up and down by the elevator as residents return home from their productive lives. Up and down. Up and down. I can’t help but resent the freedom they have. The ability to come and go as they please. I didn’t even have that when I was alive, and I most certainly do not have that now.
She is now able to walk through walls within a certain circumference of the elevator and take stock of each of the neighbours’ apartments who she never got to know during the two years she was living there. There follow a series of vignettes inside each of the apartments neighboring the elevator as she gets to know the area to which she is tethered. The inhabitants of the other apartments all have their own stories which Kae slowly uncovers: domestic abuse; infidelity; a husband in a coma; a TV Medium who is losing his popularity:
It seems that everyone in this building has a persona that they reveal to the public, but their true selves only surface when they are alone—when they do not know they are being watched.
The author’s descriptive skills come to the fore as she shows us each of the inhabitants of these rooms through ghostly Rachel’s eyes:
He is tall, well over six feet, and reed thin. He looks to be in his late fifties, but his face bears no lines. His skin is loose and transparent. He reminds me of one of Madame Tussauds’ wax-work creations, one that was left in the heat for so long it has begun to melt. A tiny silver skull pierces the top of his right ear. His left arm is tattooed from wrist to elbow with whirling designs, Celtic knots interwoven with Russian characters. The tattoo looks like a loose silk sleeve gently clinging to bone. He is bald, without a single hair on his head or arms.
In addition to Kae’s first person perspective there are also chapters which are excerpts from her diary and these help to fill in the back story of Kae’s unfortunate life and her husband’s death, leading up to her grisly murder.
The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is a spine-tingling story – the simmering tension is built up well, particularly when Kae visits the spooky basement where she encounters some other ghosts, including a scary little girl, and amongst the living when the domestic abuse scenes appear about to boil over.
I had thought that my story was unique, but it seems as if everyone in this building has a strangely tragic story, one wrought with mystery and misery.
Kae is unsure why her ghost cannot move on and feels there must be a purpose to her being left tethered to the elevator in an apartment full of mysteries. If she can only work out what that purpose is maybe she will finally be able to rest easy and move on.
I know the secrecy, the darkness, the evil everyone harbors inside. What they all keep locked away, behind closed doors.
I recommend this story to fans of ghost stories and mysteries. The intriguing puzzles of what is really going on inside each of the apartments are gripping and will keep you reading, following the clues to the identity of Kae’s murderer. There are more than a few twists to this story and the reveal of the murderer’s identity took me by surprise.
About the Author
Helen Power is an academic librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada. In her spare time, she haunts deserted cemeteries, loses her heart to dashing thieves, and cracks tough cases, all from the comfort of her writing nook. She has several short story publications, including ones in Suspense Magazine,
Hinnom Magazine, and Dark Helix Press’s Canada 150 anthology, “Futuristic Canada”. Her stories range from comedy to horror, with just a hint of dystopia in between. The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is her first novel.