In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.
Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he’s been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.
His best friend Russ won’t be surprised when Dec leaves—but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He’s made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.
But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec’s main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.
Honestly, after I read the first line about most people in St. Hilaire making their living by talking to the dead, I didn’t need to read any further. Attention secured.
One of my favorite things about this book is the friendship between Dec and Russ. Both have suffered tragic losses in their lives, but know they can count on each other no matter what. Everyone needs a friendship like that in their life, although at some points it seems as if the balance shifts with Dec taking more than he gives. Each is at a crossroads where the decisions they make will significantly impact not only their lives, but also their loved ones – especially Dec. Russ is struggling with some personal demons (not literal ones – but he does struggle with literal ghosts) that may prevent him from achieving his goals.
While Dec and Russ had to maneuver through hurdles and obstacles, Anna didn’t seem to have as much agency. She shares POVs with Dec and Russ, but primarily exists to support other story lines. I’d love to see her play a bigger role in the second book.
Something I never had a firm grasp on was The Guild. Their presence looms like a dark cloud over the story, and they control many activities of citizens in the town, but exactly how they obtained that power and how they used the money brought in from tourists and other sources was never clear to me.
I’d describe this book as a quiet paranormal that reads like a contemporary. It may lack heartstopping reveals or shocking twists, but the story takes you by the hand and leads you on a pleasant supernatural journey.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.