Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Review: House of Whispers [Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5] by J. L. Bryan + Q&A
The Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series has been one I have thoroughly enjoyed. Each new installment brings more ghosts, more hauntings, and more trouble. I look forward to each new adventure I get to take with Ellie and Stacey, and House of Whispers is no exception.
Ellie and Stacey have to investigate a haunting at the The Lathrop Grand Hotel. A hotel that has been around for years, and has been host to victims of war, yellow fever, and sinister gatherings. The hotel is due for renovation in the closed off fourth floor, and although this hotel is famous for Stabby Abby, something else is going on. Before it gets worse Ellie and Stacey are called in to investigate and solve the hauntings.
House of Whispers has got to be one of the most complex hauntings that Ellie and Stacey have done so far. The hotel has a big history and trying to pin down the ghosts, find out who they were and why they are still haunting is not a small job, and the girls call on thier friends to help them dig up the past, and try to find out why the ghosts remain. The large variety of ghosts in this book certainly keeps you engrossed, from wounded soldiers, to children who died of yellow fever. The vast array of hauntings by these ghosts made for a spooky yet gripping read. Leaving me wanting to know more, to find out every single detail about the hauntings and what started them.
I have really enjoyed seeing Ellie and Stacey grow, not only as characters but as a team. They may be polar opposites but they really do now how to kick a ghost's butt. Ellie seems to be a lot more sure of things and is becoming more confident in her abilities, but also when the right time to run away is, by the end of the book, although her future is still in doubt, she at least knows what she wants to do. Stacey just has me laughing at a lot of the things she says or does, but I like how she is always cheerful, and I think that reflects on Ellie occasionally.
House of Whispers also brings in an unlikely companion in solving this case. I liked how everyone worked together, I don't think they could have succeeded individually, but I still don't trust them and even now, I'm still wondering if this is good or bad for Ellie.
J. L. Bryan has a way of creating a dark, gloomy, and mysterious setting, but also leaves you wanting to see this hotel in person, real or not, to explore the grounds and secret passageways yourself. House of Whispers is my favourite of this series so far and I can't wait to see what else is in store for Ellie Jordan.
J. L. Bryan kindly took some time out to answer a few questions for me. Rad on to discover why the Ellie Jordan series was written, what he has in store for this series, and who he would invite around for a dinner part
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.
Thanks for having me on your blog!
1. Your previous books focus more towards fantasy, what inspired you to write about ghosts and paranormal?
Ghosts seemed like a fascinating area to explore because, unlike with other paranormal creatures and characters like vampires, werewolves, etc., ghosts actually could be real. It was an opportunity to write something very supernatural while trying to keep it as realistic as possible, which for me makes the supernatural elements even more interesting. Ellie's world isn't full of shifters and elves and magic-users, so when something supernatural happens, it really counts. I also love old-fashioned pulp detective stories, and I've always wanted to write a private investigator character, so Ellie is a lot of fun for me.
2. The Ellie Jordan: Ghost Trapper series goes into a lot of detail about different types of ghosts and hauntings, how much research was involved in writing this series?
I've done lots of research, and it's an on-going process. The research is really a lot of fun, as I'm sure you can imagine. My goal has been to learn everything I can about real ghost stories and specific experiences people have had, and there's just an unlimited number of stories out there. You can ask anyone or find countless books and websites that collect real ghost stories. For the purposes of my research, I haven't been skeptical (which I normally would be) but instead have assumed that every ghost story that claims to be real actually is—because, in Ellie's world, all those stories would definitely be real. This allowed me to sidestep worrying about whether each story is true and instead focus on the kinds of experiences people have with ghosts and all the different sorts of ghosts that seem to be out there. I've also studied paranormal investigation procedures used by real groups and researchers in order to make the Ellie series more realistic, as in line with our world as possible.
3. Do you believe in ghosts, and have you personally experienced any paranormal activity yourself?
I'm pretty agnostic about these things right now. Certainly ghostly encounters are common, much more common than I realized before I began researching this series, but it's impossible to say what people are encountering. Skeptics would point out that our brains are heavily biased toward interpreting random patterns as human faces and sounds as voices. On the other hand, I've read about many cases where people seemed to be dealing with a difficult or even malevolent presence in their home, multiple witnesses encountered apparitions or other strange events, and psychics or exorcists were able to resolve the problem. My wife and I once heard a disembodied male voice whisper into our ears late at night while spending the night at a friend's house, and it was so scary we didn't even speak to each other about it until the next day. There's really no explanation for that voice. It sounded hostile and said “Shoo shoo shoo,” like someone trying to run off an annoying animal.
4. I love the characters in this book, especially Stacey. If you could pick just one of these to fight in your side, who would you pick and why?
If we're talking about fighting with ghosts, there's a good case to be made for Jacob, their psychic friend who sometimes gets involved in the investigation. I'd really have to pick Ellie herself, because she's probably the all-around toughest and most knowledgeable about dealing with the supernatural. Stacey is learning! And Stacey would probably be the most fun of all the characters to hang out with.
5. Can we expect any more adventures from Ellie?
Yes, I initially planned a series of eight or ten books depending on how well-received they were. Fortunately, the response from readers has been great, and these are my most successful books so far, so I see no reason to stop writing them now. I've just released book five, and the sixth book will be out in early 2016. I'll keep writing them as long as they're fun for me and readers continue to enjoy them.
Now a change of subject
6. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
I've always enjoyed reading, so basically as soon as I understood you could write stories for a living, I knew I wanted to do that. I made up my mind sometime in elementary school, maybe when I was seven or eight. We also a “publishing company” at my school where volunteer moms would come in and type your stories and bind them in colorful little covers. So I'd write stories and get them back as “published” books, and that seemed like the coolest thing in the world.
7. If you could host a dinner party with anyone, dead or alive, which five people would you invite and why?
This is totally the hardest question here. I'm going to say...Albert Einstein, because who wouldn't want to have a conversation with him? Mary Shelley, one of the earliest writers of horror, science fiction, and apocalyptic fiction. Probably Ralph Waldo Emerson because I've been fascinated by the Transcendentalists. And Gandhi, because hey, Gandhi. And maybe the current Dalai Lama because he always seems to have interesting things to say. Overall, I have no idea what this dinner conversation would be like, but I have successfully named five people! Onto the next question...
8. What are you reading now, and what have you just finished?
I'm currently reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I just finished beta reading a trilogy by my friend Daniel Arenson, an Iron Age epic fantasy story that I thought was really amazing. The setting is more Roman Empire than medieval Europe, which was fun to read. The series is called Kingdoms of Sand but I have no idea when it will be published.
9. What books and/or authors would you recommend to others?
If you like urban fantasy, there are a number of good indies whose books are highly rated and available at low prices, like Annie Bellet, Dannika Dark, SM Reine, and Kate Danley.