Title: City of Ghosts (GhostWriters Series Book 1)
Author: J.H. Moncrieff
Release date: April 15, 2017
If you’ve followed along with me on social media or with any of my reviews, you know how much I love J.H. Moncrieff and her writing. From ‘The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave,’ to ‘Return to Dyatlov Pass,’ and over to ‘Those Who Came Before,’ Moncrieff has crafted some of the best and creepiest horror/thrillers out there.
Through chatting with her, she herself had said she wasn’t sure if I’d like her GhostWriters Series, as it’s not as horror and gore as the others, but she said these were the books closest to her heart.
When the Ladies of Horror Fiction announced their ‘Read Ladies First’ in 2020, I decided to jump on that and make ‘City of Ghosts’ as my #LadiesFirst2020 read.
‘City of Ghosts’ follows Jackson, as he travels in China on a holiday tour. He’s booked this trip to experience a country that has always fascinated him and he’s excited to see some of the tourist spots. We pick up in the fictional Hensu – a ghost city that the tour attendees are told used to be a town, but when the dam was put in, the village was relocated.
Here Jackson decides he wants to try and write a book about ghosts and decides to sneak away from the group and spend the night in Hensu, hoping to have a paranormal experience.
From here, Moncrieff crafts a fast moving thriller. Once that has as much mystery in it as ghostly happenings and she uses the country of China as a fantastic character all on its own. Things are different than in North America over there and this creates added issues, which I loved.
Along the way, Jackson meets Kate, a gorgeous red-head who he is quickly smitten with, but who he holds back his feelings about as she keeps helping him as things unravel. Normally, I wouldn’t mention any of this – but I simply need to make a point here. One of the best things that happen throughout, is that even though Jackson and Kate get closer and closer and there is some distinct chemistry between the two – Moncrieff purposefully holds off on them becoming intimate. While most authors would have these two shack up and use both the pros and cons of that as story fodder, by having them remain respectful of each other’s space and having some really meaningful conversations around the expectations put on men and women, I found the characters became elevated and I really wanted to root for them to become a couple.
I have the other books in the series and I’ve heard from a very reliable source that another book is in the works, so I’m excited to jump into Book 2 ‘The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts,’ soon.
As for those who haven’t read Moncrieff before, this is a great spot to start, but as mentioned, don’t expect too much gore, creatures or dark, dark horror. This book doesn’t suffer because of that. No, in a way, not having those features made it all that more enjoyable.