Daniel (Danny) Hollowell is the host of a successful paranormal investigation show. He and his team—fellow host Ricky Voss, cameraman Gary, and security guy Sam (called Big Bear)—travel the country looking for ghosts and paranormal events. The night before filming starts for a Cleveland-based episode, Danny is woken up in the middle of the night by Gary, who is drunk, and a stranger with an unbelievable tale.
The stranger, named Lance, insists that Danny visit Ashford, Ohio. He claims that after the Ashford Hill Asylum burned down in 1930, scores of Ashford citizens disappeared sporadically and without a trace. Enough people disappeared that the town was effectively shuttered and can’t be found on a map or in the historical record. Also, it’s haunted. Ignoring the wishes of his network, Danny decides to skip the planned filming and go to Ashford, a decision he will come to regret as it turns out that something more sinister than advertised waits for him there. No one will leave Ashford unchanged, if they leave at all.
Danny recounts the story from the confines of a psychiatric facility, desperate to establish not only his innocence, but the veracity of his tale. This elegant framing allows the author to deftly weave Danny’s written testimony, passages from Dr. Kenneth Harvey’s book about his time in Ashford after the fire, and Ricky Voss’s court testimony together to create a compelling, mystery-driven narrative. This story also ticks all the boxes in terms of what you’d want in a paranormal novel. There are ghosts, cult-like happenings in an asylum, demon possessions, mysterious serums, prophecies, jump scares, zombie-like creatures, alternate realms, time-traveling houses, and hidden powers. In terms of supernatural elements, you couldn’t ask for more than THREE DAYS IN ASHFORD delivers.
Danny is an Anthony Bourdain-type personality: he’s brash and rude, but charming and empathetic, if not always likeable. He has that “I’m tough because I grew up in Boston” attitude that the media can’t get seem to get enough of, but this lends him believability as a narrator in an inherently unbelievable story. He and his team of boys make up a pack that care about each other so much that they never stop ragging on each other. They are fun to read, but this boy’s club may not be for all readers. The only problem in that as author Ty Tracey’s tale hits its climax, the mystery is unraveled and explained almost exclusively through exposition dialogue, which hampers the story’s momentum somewhat as it speeds towards an outlandish conclusion.
THREE DAYS IN ASHFORD is a cinematic, action-packed thriller that piles on the supernatural elements, and then weaves them into a well-paced mystery.
~Meaghan O’Brien for IndieReader