Monday 29 April 2019

PALACE OF GHOSTS by Thomas S. Flowers

Four veterans of the Iraq War seeking a cure for Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder arrive at a notoriously haunted house in the bogs of Galveston Island called Amon Palace. 

Samantha Green, a friendless former Army K-9 handler looking for a way to put her loss behind her. 

Brad Myers, a lighthearted former Military Police Officer severally wounded in war wanting nothing more than a good night’s sleep. 

Andy Lovejoy, an overweight light spoken drone operator who once watched the war from above now questions who he has become. 

Marcus Pangborn, a headstrong Marine who desperately wants a dead friend’s forgiveness.

The group joins Doctor Frederick Peters, an experimental psychologist looking to prove his exposure theory hypothesis, and his two assistants, Tiffany Burgess and Dexter Reid. 

At first, their stay seems to conjure nothing more than spooky encounters with inexplicable phenomena. But Amon Palace is gathering its powers—and soon it will reveal that these veterans are not who they seem.

I was lucky enough to receive an eBook copy of this book after having a Twitter conversation with Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. Erin is an author, editor, and great at marketing. So, when she offered me a copy of this book by Thomas S. Flowers, of course I said yes. 😊

Besides, have you seen that creepy, colourful cover?

Doctor Frederick Peters is an experimental psychologist who invites four veterans to Amon Palace because he thinks being inside a rumoured haunted house will help cure their PTSD. He wants each of them to confront their fears and memories in a strange environment he believes will help overcome their trauma.

Things start off well enough, with the four veterans attending group therapy together, and listening to the doctor's instructions. The only problem is that the house has other plans for the new occupants...

I really enjoyed this! The creepy vibes never stop coming, and I was happy to be there for every second.

As soon as I started, I was sucked into this haunted house adventure, and really liked all the characters. Not to mention that the book starts after something has obviously gone wrong, which serves as a total tease and certainly dragged me deeper.

Another thing I enjoyed was the horror element because it was so unexpected, and there's no holding back. Things are moving along at a good pace, the characters are introduced, their personal problems exposed, and then: BAM! Horror strikes.

The imagery is vivid and totally wicked.

The characterisation is also great. There are quite a few POVs included in this book, but each one is portrayed so well and moves the story along at such a great pace that the freaky tapestry of war veterans trying to overcome their PTSD starts to unravel. For different reasons, I felt so bad for Samantha, Brad, Andy and Marcus. 

And what the house does to them is even worse. Yikes!

I also have to mention the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, because they change and grow with the story.

Palace of Ghosts turned out to be an atmospheric, freaky story featuring a bunch of sympathetic and likeable characters. I instantly connected with the veterans, and felt so sad for the mental scars they're left with after serving in war.

And that's another awesome thing about this book. Not only is it a horror tale that totally gripped me at every step, but it's also a very raw study of how the human psyche deals with trauma, and how it can be used against you. Even by someone who is honestly trying to help.

Words from Thomas – For those looking for something in the vein of Jacob’s Ladder meets The Haunting of Hill House (with touches of Lovecraft), I think Palace of Ghosts may be a story up your alley. Palace of Ghosts is a story that addresses my own ghosts. I wanted to explore the question of what would happen if traumatic memory could take physical form and terrorize and haunt the host.

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