PaperBackSwap Blog

Fantasy Review – Wide Open

Wide Open by Deborah Coates

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)

Call this a contemporary fantasy with a murder mystery plot. No wizards, elves, or vampires, but a growing dark power that needs to be put back.  There’s a hint of romantic possibility.

Hallie Michaels is returning home on compassionate leave from her unit in Afghanistan. She’s been told her sister Dell has died, but that’s all she knows.  Waiting for her in the concourse are two friends – and two ghosts.  Hallie’s been seeing the ghost of Eddie, a good friend and fellow soldier killed by an IED, after she briefly “died” in an attack. And now there’s Dell. The ghosts don’t communicate, they just drift close by her.

But then she’s told that Dell committed suicide, by driving her car into a tree out in a remote part of country. Hallie knows her sister would never have done that. After a bit she realizes the ghosts are trying to tell her that there’s something left unfinished. Hallie is going to find out what happened to Dell no matter what.

Then there’s the new deputy, Boyd Davies. This is a small rural town – everyone has known everyone else for ages. Where did he come from?  Hallie is sure Boyd knows something about Dell, but he won’t say anything to her.  But he always manages to show up, seemingly out of  nowhere, when Hallie looks like she might be getting into trouble.  Hallie’s questions quickly garner hostility from a couple people she thinks know more than they are letting on. As her suspicions coalesce around Dell’s workplace, Uku-Weber, the hostility becomes open threats.

What is it that Uku-Weber actually does? When more ghosts of young women start following Hallie around, and fires start from no cause, she gets more and more determined to stop it, whatever it is.

Hallie is a very likable character. She’s tough, stubborn, prickly and with take-no-prisoners attitude. Boyd is more enigmatic but as we get to his backstory he also becomes more relatable. I liked how Hallie interacted with the ghosts – it would be hard to do that without your friends thinking you’re crazy. Lots of atmosphere conveyed in straightforward prose, good pacing, and good dialogue.

As I write this, there are two sequels featuring Hallie, but this one is a complete story in itself.





Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply