Laurel isn’t excited about the prospect of an emotionally-exhausting beachside wedding with her family. Fresh off a round of questionably-effective hypnosis with her therapist, she tries to take it in stride as she begins to see things, hear voices, and form connections—all of which are invisible to everyone around her. Soon a haunted house ghost story reveals the dizzying machinery of time and destiny beneath.
Rhya Tenney’s FISHER’S LUCK is bright, energetic, and weird. There are some foibles in the prose style though overall the text is crisp and the pacing fast. Although the prose does occasionally stumble, its descriptive language is excellent, and both the beachside town and the unusual beings that inhabit it are richly—and effectively—drawn.
The story, however, seems to struggle with focus. Two sequels are already slated for release, suggesting that this book is only part of a story published serially for its length, and this may explain some of the issues with structure. There is clearly a bigger story waiting to be told—one which takes a sci-fi/horror turn—but the unfortunate feeling is that some real opportunities are missed in racing to establish the groundwork for this other story. The early chapters are like an entirely different novel: a charming and quirky tale about a colorful seaside town with a purportedly-haunted B&B. When this setup evolves into a grander, darker story, the appealing care spent on both the town and most of its characters (including a goofy crew of ghost hunters, all of them given detailed individual descriptions) seems wasted. By the time Laurel learns some hard truths about what’s really happening and why her brain works the way it does, the text has to lean on lengthy passages of exposition. This feels like a strange and unnecessary bait-and-switch: FISHER’S LUCK does an excellent job with organic world-building early on, but then ignores that world entirely to build another through brute-force monologues by nondescript characters introduced three-quarters of the way through the text.
Laurel herself seems to have little agency in lengthy sections where she and the reader both stand still and listen while other people talk. It isn’t a necessity for every sentence in a novel to ruthlessly serve an essential purpose; lingering mysteries, red herrings, and little joys all add to the pleasure of reading. However, the story needs more clarity about what is important, what isn’t, and what story it intends to tell in this self-contained volume—regardless of future installments.
Well-imagined and often fun, Rhya Tenney’s FISHER’S LUCK is a good first entry of a new, eccentric series with lots of potential.
~Dan Accardi for IndieReader