Ghost of a Dream (A Ghost Finders Novel)
by Simon R. Green
Cover Artist: Don Sipley
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781937007737
Date: 28 August 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Simon R. Green's new Ghost Finders novel, Ghost of a Dream, begins with the team facing off against a train that went into a tunnel decades ago...and never came out. Now it's on its way back, to the derelict platform it was meant to reach. Except now, the people on board have been in a hellish otherworld for all that time, likely warped into horrific parodies of themselves at best, and at worst, into the vanguard of a Lovecraftian invasion.
With help from a local and a dead, de-brained scientist, the team figures out a rather desperate course of action, then does their best to put things right. Achieving a victory of sorts is almost beside the point; the team members realize they are not at their best and that their next mission could end up a disaster. JC's ghostly girlfriend is missing, for one thing, and the Carnacki Institute (their employer) has shown it is corrupt at the highest levels. If anything, their position has only grown more precarious with time.
Their next assignment comes much too soon, depriving them of much-needed down time, and lands them in a backwater town where a theater has been haunted. The theater is due to launch a new production of a play by its married stars, Benjamin and Elizabeth, but the haunting promises to ruin all of it. The arrival of the luscious Lissa Parr--an up-and-coming actress who will bring star power to the production--complicates matters a bit, as does the appearance of a slovenly, too-helpful caretaker.
As reality becomes unglued around them, the team realizes that they are dealing with an extraordinarily powerful creature--one that intends to use the theater to serve its own awful ambitions. All that stands between England and a nightmare is a rare power unto itself...and a courageous trio who are certainly not at their best.
Green once again mixes and matches genres with gleeful abandon in this mystery tale. Drawing heavily upon Britain's rich dramatic tradition, Green skillfully blends that into the supernatural world he has painstakingly developed through so many works. Benjamin Darke and Elizabeth DeFries are likable characters, once the veneer of showbiz superficiality is worn away, and yet they hide painful secrets. Naturally, their hidden history plays into the overall narrative, but not in a way the reader might expect.
Green also sets up the villain's true motives very cleverly, building suspicion and working in flashes of misdirection to keep the reader guessing along with the Ghost Finders themselves. And even at that, he continues to evolve the characters, with a surprising (and disturbing) revelation about JC and strange new facets of both Melody and Happy Jack emerging.
Readers who enjoy a rollercoaster ride through a haunted house (well, theater, but I'm mixing metaphors here) will love this novel. Not exactly a hopping-on point, it is nevertheless a terrific continuation of the Ghost Finders' adventures, with loads of horrors, thrills and shocks to keep readers turning pages long into the night.