3.25.2011

Review: The Haunting of Wolfe Haven, by Debbie A Heaton

Debbie Heaton's The Haunting of Wolfe Haven is at best an enjoyable ghost story, and at worst a bad romance novel. It's fairly well-written with a decent insight into our main character's psyche (which stems from Ms. Heaton's day job as a therapist of 25 years). But all of that comes to a screeching halt in the last 3 pages.

Instead of wrapping up the story with its inevitable conclusion or even alluding to something more, Heaton takes a step over the precipice. She writes a terribly executed (and completely out of place) sex scene. Ms. Heaton is not the first author to make this mistake. There are serial romance "novelists" who make careers out of this kind of thing. But there's simply no precedence for it within the realm of this story. There's no build to it, there's no anticipation. These characters have a definite spark-worthy past, and have a definite viable connection in the present, but this is just silly. It's a complete non-sequitur. Suddenly we're getting words and actions thrown at us that just have no place in the rest of the book. I literally laughed out loud and shook my head in disappointment.

I really liked the book up until that point. It had a good enough plot that I was actually drawn into the story. I thought it had a nice mix of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and Barbara Michaels' Sons of the Wolf (formerly titled Mystery on the Moors)...I actually thought it would have a similar ending to Sons of the Wolf because it seemed a lot like that book

I was learning things - I had no idea that New Mexico had forests or a monsoon season! The story feels like it should take place in Yorkshire with Sons of the Wolf and The Secret Garden, but it totally works in New Mexico, and I was surprised by that.

When I got home last night, I still had about 80 pages to read, so I stayed up and read them because I was enjoying it. There was a plot twist in the last 20 pages that I hadn't caught on to, and I was really exited to get to the end...and then it was a total let-down....a shocking let-down, at that. It wasn't the story or the plot or even the characters, it was just that thrown-in over-thought bit at the end. I'm very surprised, given Ms. Heaton's extensive psychological background, that there wasn't more of a rational, mental resolution to the whole thing. I have no idea why the physical came in at the last moment.

What I will say is this: it's a good book...until the last three pages. And they're pretty much unnecessary. So, by all means, read the book...until the top of page 219, and then just assume the rest. Leave it at that.

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