Karen Rule aims for chills in New Beginnings – The Unseen?. Her debut novel is a supernatural thriller that revels in the standard ingredients of any good ghost story. Haunted houses, mysterious small towns, errant spirits – all of these elements figure into Rule’s heartfelt but somewhat unpolished first effort.
The book follows the trials of a young couple, Lela and Charlie, who move to the mysterious small town of Moon-Hollow Falls after striking a deal on a seemingly perfect house. Soon after moving in, however, they find that the home hosts a paranormal mystery that ultimately extends to the entire town.
Lela quickly encounters a spirit named Victoria-Grace, and her ghostly encounter drives a deeper look into the history of Moon-Hollow Falls. With the guidance of local shop owner Debby Valentine and others, the couple discovers that their new hometown and its residents exist in a surreal realm far removed from the real world.
From the first chapters, Rule works to invest her prose with mystery and eeriness, quickly introducing supernatural twists and spectral characters. Indeed, the author’s vision is clear from the outset: Rule offers a setup straight out of countless horror movies and works to invest the narrative structure with imaginative and otherworldly twists and turns.
The effect, however, is dimmed by some consistent editing issues. Much of the action gets bogged down by scenes with extended and unnecessary dialogue. Excessive exposition dilutes potential chills; and an uneven pace gets in the way of bona fide scares.
Even so, Rule succeeds in offering readers some genuinely eerie moments in what looks to be the first in a series of stories set in Moon-Hollow. With some attention to tightening up her prose and focusing more on the tale’s action, this could be the first step in a compelling narrative journey for this first-time author.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.