For a while, bestselling horror author Dennis Shore felt like he had it all: career success beyond his wildest dreams, a wife he adored, a beautiful teenage daughter and a lovely home. His dark, horrific thrillers repeatedly captured the number one spot and quickly hit the silver screen. Life was good. And then the crash. Lucy, his beloved wife, died of cancer. Audrey, his daughter, left for college. Now writer’s block wraps itself around Dennis’s imagination, strangling it until nothing is left. And alone in his big Victorian house, with a publishing deadline days away, Dennis makes a bad choice --- a choice that will bring his own terrifying tales crashing into his world.
Everyone knows Dennis Shore’s books, movies, oft-quoted lines and most gruesome scenes. Horror fans adore him. But Dennis is desperate. Facing a deadline he can’t possibly make, he frantically ransacks his closet in an attempt to find some old writings or anything he can give his publisher to show he has started on his next book. Then he finds it, but “it” isn’t his. “It” is a manuscript sent to him long ago by a fan who just wanted some input from the famous author. “It” is really good.
Lost in his loneliness, grief and desperation, and having long ago denied the existence of God, Dennis makes the second biggest mistake of his life: he claims the book as his own. Months later, a mysterious girl arrives on his doorstep with a dire warning: the book cannot be released. She tells him horrible things will happen if the book hits the stores. But it is too late. Hours after she leaves, the first copy arrives on Dennis’s doorstep, and with it, the beginning of a real life nightmare that will have Dennis experiencing scenes from his own grisly novels.
Dennis knows the person threatening him is the true author of his latest bestseller, but how can a human being conjure up such demonic happenings? He cannot figure out whether he is losing his mind or being stalked by something not of this world. He dares not tell the police for fear his plagiarism will be made public and he will be seen as both a liar and a lunatic. But as the horrors intensify, Dennis discovers the real author was murdered months ago. Worse, his daughter, the one person he loves most in this world, is in danger as well.
Everything in Dennis’s life is spiraling out of his control, a concept that knocks him down like a wrecking ball. Having control was the very basis for his lack of faith. Dennis did not want God or anyone else to take on that role. But now control is in the hands of a ghostly creature with the worst possible intentions, and it seems there is no way out of the reoccurring horrors it invokes.
Bound, broken and facing death, Dennis is blessed with a momentary gift from his deceased wife: a little glimpse of heaven. Will it be enough to save him, or has he reached the point of no return?
GHOSTWRITER is an excellent ghost story, and so much more. It speaks to the debilitating grief that envelops a person who has lost a loved one, and how lack of faith prolongs and intensifies that pain. It speaks to the emptiness in the hearts of non-believers, and how the evil one will find a way into those spaces. And it tackles the issue of control, something so many Christians struggle with even when they want to let God take the reins.
In addition to the depth of the story itself, Travis Thrasher has created real characters whose personalities, beliefs and insecurities are woven beautifully into their actions and dialogue. Dennis is flawed as can be, but likable as well. He aches for his wife, loves his daughter beyond measure and proves himself a loyal friend. Bob, the ghost’s pawn, is hands down the scariest thing in the book, taking pleasure from committing gruesome acts that the rest of us don’t even want to contemplate. If you like supernatural, horror, or thriller novels, this is the book to read.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on November 13, 2011