Monday Book Review: Ghosts of Varnar creek


 

The Ghosts of Varner Creek [Kindle Edition]

Michael L. Weems

 

Book Description

 August 10, 2011
A well-crafted balance of history and supernatural mystery. -Kirkus Reviews
•A Barnes and Noble Nook Sci Fi/Fantasy Bestseller 
•A Kindle #1 Bestseller in Historical Fiction and Horror/Ghosts 
•An Amazon Top 100 Rated in Fiction, Top 10 in Mysteries

Kirkus Reviews
At 87, Solomon “Sol” Mayfield is taken on an otherworldly journey to discover what really happened to his family. Sol has been able to see ghosts ever since his mother and sister mysteriously disappeared when he was a child. When he dies in a nursing home in the second chapter of the novel, it’s only the beginning of his story. He’s reunited with his sister, Sarah, who reveals family secrets he was never able to learn while he was alive. The novel flashes back to 1909, when Sol was 12 and Sarah was 13. The day after Sarah’s birthday, Sol wakes up to find that his mother and sister are gone. Many in their small town of Varner Creek, Texas, assume that Sol’s mother, Annie, had finally had enough of his abusive father, Abram; others suspect foul play. Abram blamed Annie for Sarah’s Down syndrome and for trapping him in a small town by becoming pregnant at 14. Sent to live with his Aunt Emma and Uncle Colby, Sol is visited one night by what appears to be Sarah’s ghost. Is his sister dead? If so, who killed her? And what about their mother? Sol sets out to find the answers, some of which are not revealed until decades later. Weems’ story unfurls slowly, at a pace that feels consistent with life in a small Texas town. He has an impressive knack for dialect, and regional accents and idioms help bring the characters into vivid relief. Also, Sol’s self-deprecation and world-weary charm make him an instantly likable narrator. While it’s easy to get pulled into his story, the narrative sags a bit in the middle when the reader is given a thorough history of how Sol’s parents met, which doesn’t feel entirely necessary to the main story. When the final mystery is unveiled, however, the solution is sufficiently unexpected if not completely shocking.

Author note: Not a horror story or thriller. This is a paranormal mystery in the old South. Recommended 18+ for adult themes and content.

My Take:
The book wasn’t quite what I expected, being that most paranormal/ghost stories are mysteries with a protagonist seeing a ghost who wants them to solve their murder or to help them solve murders.  This is a unique twist, a man dying and visited by a memory of someone that died.  Not sure I would classify this as paranormal, rather than more spiritual or new age at best.  The book does lag and drag in the middle with a bloated back story that really does nothing for the rhyme and meter of the book. It’s nice to have, but wholly unnecessary.
The story from the dead’s point of view is unique as well.  There have been books I’ve read from the dead’s point of view, but usually that is to point out how they were murdered and to interact with a live being to help solve or point out the murderer.  The old man, Sol, is well-written, the author having done his homework on living in the South, the pacing is somewhat stale but palatable. Tried as I might, I could not get through the book, slogging through the descriptions, backstory, history of so many people, side swiping the main thrust of the book. I will probably go back and try to end the story to see what happened.  I would give Ghosts of Varnar Creek 4 stars.
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