Ryan Chartrand

“The Haunting of Cambria” by Richard Taylor is a fun, frightening and romantic book that makes perfect reading material for Halloween.

The story is about a writer named Theo Parker who falls madly in love with a beautiful woman named Lily. He quits his job and moves to Cambria with her to open a bed and breakfast, which has always been her dream. Sadly, Lily is killed in an accident soon after their arrival and Theo is left to pick up the pieces. In addition to trying to find a way to live without the woman he loves, Theo must also cope with the fact that the bed and breakfast they bought seems to be haunted. Strange things happen in the house and Theo is desperate to figure out what is causing them.

The wonderful part of this book is that Taylor manages to balance the supernatural with the believable. His plotline requires the reader to suspend disbelief slightly, but doesn’t force readers to throw it away entirely. There are totally natural occurrences in the book that balance out the haunted house and the various spooky happenings.

For example, mixed in a chapter with ghosts there are entire pages of Theo living his everyday life. His new friendships and adjustment to a new town weave throughout the plot of his haunted home.

In this way, there seem to be two major plotlines working throughout the novel. The first plot is Theo’s life and attempts to adjust to his drastically altered world. The second is the strange and often inexplicable things that go on inside the bed and breakfast Theo owns. The two plots mingle when Theo is inside the house and investigates what is occurring there. But for long periods in the book when he is outside the house, it is a very simple novel of life and love.

Setting the book in Cambria also allows local readers to have another level of enjoyment in the book. As the characters make their way to various local spots, it is easy to picture those places. It makes the book come alive and feel more real in some ways.

The book has been compared by some reviewers to a Stephen King novel, with its mix of horror, supernatural and everyday events.

The one true disappointment of this book is that it had to end. “The Haunting of Cambria” is meant to be the first book in a series, and the ending leaves the story incomplete. There is more to be explained and while one mystery has been solved, another is introduced. I hope, the next installment in the series will not take long to be published.

This is a surprisingly well-written debut novel. It balances the right mix of elements and inspires a range of emotions that keep it from becoming tedious. The characters are dynamic and it is easy to become attached to them. It is a true page-turner and I was able to speed through the 303-page novel in one day. This was not only because the plot was so intriguing, but also because the style and writing were well-done and easy to follow.

This is the perfect book to read in honor of Halloween, with ghosts, haunted houses and mysterious occurrences. For those not interested in a scary book, though, it still delivers a great cast of characters and a good old-fashioned love story. “The Haunting of Cambria” is available in local bookstores all over the county.

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