by S.M. Peters
Review by Mel Jacob
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462695
Date: 05 May 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Ghost Ocean, a dark, coming-of-age, urban fantasy, by S.M. Peters centers on Te Evangeline, an apprentice to paranormal debunker Babu Cherian, she wrestles with her loneliness and her father's death. Estranged from her mother, she believes her father deserted her. Gradually, she learns her world is not what she had always believed.
Horrific man-eating creatures abound. All Te's life they have filled her nights with strange nightmares that haunted her. While on a job with Babu, she discovers they exist when one escapes and leaves its jailer dying. Babu has always insisted paranormal creatures don't exist, but now she questions everything Babu has told her. Who can she trust in this strange world?
Te joins with Babu and a motley assembly of others to recapture the escaped monster before it releases ones even more horrific. As they work toward that end, she discovers her own heritage and sees herself, her world, and the monsters in a new light.
Babu has lost friends and his wife to the monsters. They have turned his brother comatose and he now resides in an asylum. Babu promised Te's father, Rob, to keep her safe and away from the monsters. He suspects the Man in the Empty Chair and Angrel, an albino tarot card reader, caused Rob's death.
Eventually Te learns her father worked as a Binder. He calmed and bound monsters so they could be captured and imprisoned. She wants to know the truth of her father's death and who killed him. Her struggle to seek answers threatens her life and the lives of her colleagues.
On one level the novel represents the classic struggle between good and evil, but the line becomes blurred as Te matures. Humans battle monsters bent on devouring them. Separating illusion from reality becomes more difficult.
Peters uses many allusions to literary classics in chapter titles and story elements. Mythic elements abound. Te's journey to self-awareness mirrors the hero's journey described by Joseph Campbell. Some elements resemble those in Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come. However, readers needn't be aware of these to enjoy this novel.
An accomplished writer, Peters' debut steampunk novel, Whitechapel Gods, received wide acclaim. He has two novels in development using the world he created in Ghost Ocean where monsters, myths, and humans co-exist.