Just pages into the prologue, I was struck by the vividness of each scene which soon became animated in my imagination; the film reel was rolling.
The action is suspenseful and dramatic, but saddening as you feel how the burden of main character Shelby Rivers’ early life is set to potentially destroy her future. And with this combined eeriness and poignancy, Noëlle Blake thrusts you into Shelby’s very accomplished but single Sex and the City-esque life, while at the same time exposing its hollow centre.
She is a community arts coordinator who at long last feels a real connection to her work, without judgement or the stain of inadequacy. However, not even something so integral to her life i.e. her career, is safe in her quest for revenge. We meet her current friends as well as friends no longer, and read her candid internal commentary. But once you take the character away from her affluent two-bedroom ground floor apartment in ‘Sandenham’ overlooking the canal – and I imagine her to wear chiffon wrap dresses with slightly windswept hair and wedges to match – the reader can empathise with a very relatable aspect of human nature: the desire to be acknowledged and have our feelings vindicated.
Rather intelligently, Blake leaves clues dripping throughout the chapters of what will be. Minute details which I overlooked on the first read became more obvious the second time round, but nothing about Blake’s descriptions or references are accidental. No words are out of place or meaningless.
In saying that, there are parts I felt less words would’ve done. Elaborate phrasing and wordy dialogue at times felt forced and led me to question – ‘would they really say that?’ However, this novel is a beautiful literacy challenge and has set a benchmark for future readings of impactful and contemporary fiction.
Haunting My Ghosts is personally more of a drama than a thriller, but a great debut from an author whose work already shows huge promise.
Buy now from Amazon.