Oct 15, 2012

Review: Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan


by Lissa Bryan
Published October 11, 2012 by The Writer's Coffee Shop
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads Summary: After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
But when strange things start happening, as objects break, or go missing, and terrifying visions appear, Sara begins to wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is losing her mind.
What happened to Seth is a secret closely guarded by the family to this day, a family that seems to exist under a terrible curse. Through an old trunk of letters she discovers in the attic, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love and the horrors of WWI.
When Sara realizes she is not going crazy and that Seth Fortner’s spirit still haunts her new home on the isolated island, she begins to draw him out of his shell bit by bit. She will discover what happened to the idealistic young writer who went to the battlefields of France to save lives, and to his beautiful bride to destroy the love between them, and what led Seth to make a terrible choice which would have consequences
that would echo for generations.
They gradually fall in love in their world of dreams, dreams which swiftly become more attractive than reality, as Sara learns from a ghost how to truly live. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?

My review: 
To be completely fair, there were parts of this book that deserved more than 3 stars, but looking at the complete book, and the few bumps on the road, 3 stars seem like a fitting rating.

Ghostwriter starts out rather slow as we get to know Sara in midst of the mess that her life has become: she's unemployed, she broke up with her boyfriend, is on bad terms with her mother and struggling to ghostwrite a biography of a rather dull politician. She accepts the offer to cheaply rent a cabin on an isolated island, only to find out that it was the previous home of her favorite author who died under mysterious circumstances a century ago.

Even though the pace remains slow throughout the novel, this is where things start to get more interesting. I loved the atmosphere of the island, a true heaven for a loner and writer like Sara. Sara finally comes to life and we get to see the real her, not the monotonously grey character that she was in the beginning. The introduction of Seth happens slowly, and gave me goosebumps more than once. He provided me with some of my favorite moments of this book, especially when the final third rolls around.

The final part felt like reading a completely different book, and it's a great pay-off for the slow and long build-up. I was mesmerized not only with the sweet romance, but also the entire ghost background that Lissa Bryan creates. The grand finale was a whirlwind of emotions, a beautiful tale of love between soulmates, and a story that I wanted to be a part of for at least a little bit longer.

It's hard to pinpoint why the beginning didn't really work for me. Maybe because Sara is not an exceptionally interesting character? The slow pacing? The not-so-memorable writing? Need for a more tight prose? Whatever it is, I am grateful for the big twist that made the story not only take a turn for the better, but also stick with me for days after I finished reading this book.
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