Shadows Present, Shadows Past

J.H. Sanderson

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: NULL Price: (paperback) $13.95 ISBN: 9780595398737 Reviewed: December, 2013

A quick, easy read, Shadows Present, Shadows Past is the ghost story equivalent of a “cozy” mystery, in which the characters may be discussing a grisly murder, but they do it at teatime while buttering their scones. In this case, the subject is a haunted house, debated over a breakfast of farm-fresh eggs and milk. Still, the result is the same: an entertaining tale whose underlying mystery is almost coincidental.

J.H. Sanderson’s novel has all the elements of a traditional ghost story. The Evans sisters inherit a neighbor’s long-abandoned home, a dream come true that is fast becoming a nightmare. Starting on moving-in day, the house comes alive with phantom footsteps, unexplained door-banging, and sudden cold chills.

It’s pretty standard fare, and the ghost elements are rarely the most engaging parts of the story. Instead of deeply exploring the paranormal, Sanderson turns to character development, and the mind of Colleen Evans as she tries to sort out which shadows are real and which are her own creations. Colleen’s investigation brings out not only her complex character, but also a rich a sense of place: In this small town, the librarian knows all of the gossip, and Colleen’s high school sweetheart is still pining away for her on his farm. Generations of family feuds alternately reveal and obscure the truth as the rural history unfolds.

Shadows Present, Shadows Past is written in an accessible, easy-to-read style; it’s a book you can devour in one or two sittings. You’ll enjoy it if you can forgive the occasional typographical error and a complicated conclusion that draws together a startling number of threads. Instead, concentrate on the old-fashioned story of one woman overcoming her fears with the help of her family. In this, you’ll find a satisfying tale.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Madison, New Hampshire
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