ENTWINE starts off with a killer opening line–“The bookstore had once bustled with the dead”–and the entire set-up for Tracey Shearer’s debut novel is intriguing, emotionally captivating, and legitimately amusing in its treatment of Sam’s ability to commune with the inhabitants of the afterworld. Similarly, the storyline that follows Sam and her childhood buddies, Kate and Beth, as the Charlie’s Angels of the paranormal is a witty and fresh take on female friendship, shared histories, and ghost story tropes.
The central mystery of ENTWINE–who is murdering the young women of a sleepy Scottish town and why–is engaging and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Shearer navigates an enormous cast of characters, somehow managing to make them all distinct and complete with elaborate backstories, which is no small task. Overall, ENTWINE is a great deal of spooky fun: Shearer’s pacing is brisk, the dialogue sharp, and the (after)world that she’s created is seemingly endless and surprises the reader at nearly every turn.
Unfortunately, ENTWINE falters and slips into Harlequin Romance territory with the rendering of Sam’s love affair with the long-dead but still hunky Robert Grenning. Shearer seems to lose her sense of humor in the overly dramatic dialogue between the lovers, and the human-ghost sex scenes are pages long and wincingly graphic. As a character, Sam is lively and well-drawn in her struggles with her past, interactions with the world of Entwine, and butt-kicking battle with a poltergeist. In fact, she is a far more interesting character than Robert, who is rather one-dimensional, a gorgeous ghost with plenty of angst, but not much personality. One rather wishes that Shearer had dumped the sentimental love story and continued to play in the world she etches so beautifully–a fascinating paranormal thriller with three girl Ghostbusters that put the 2016 female reboot film to shame.
A witty ghost-busting thriller, Tracey Shearer’s ENTWINE is at its spooky best when following a trio of tough women, each of whom possess a unique paranormal gift.
~Shari Simpson for IndieReader