Castle, J. (2006). Ghost hunter. New York: Jove Books. 9780515141405
Ghost hunter is a book written by Jayne Castle, a pseudonym used by Jayne Ann Krentz when she writes science fiction, and is part of the Ghost Hunters series. Castle’s books take place on a planet called Harmony. Sometime in the near future, a curtain between Earth and Harmony opened, making travel and trade quite simple for humans. Harmony is a planet that was apparently deserted long ago by a race that was as alien to it as humans. The aliens left baffling catacombs of green quartz and perhaps a security system of ghosts, balls of destructive energy. Some creatures that live there are dust bunnies; six legged, four eyed, animated pieces of lint. Then, the curtain between Harmony and Earth closes mysteriously, blocking any sort of exchange between the two planets. Life on Harmony is rather primitive for the humans but settlers manage to survive. One of their survival mechanisms is “psi energy” or psychic abilities that are helped along with amber, a kind of fuel for the psi abilities.
This particular book starts 200 years after the curtain fell. Small town woman and botany professor Elly St. Clair is the daughter of powerful ghost hunters, people who channel psi energy to wipe out these ancient ghosts. Her father is a council member of the ghost hunters’ guild in their town of Aurora Springs, her brothers are ghost hunters, and her fiancé, Cooper Boone, is the new, seemingly humorless guild boss. Upon hearing gossip that Cooper and Campbell Frazier, another ghost hunter, engaged in a duel over her, the daughter of a powerful ghost hunter, Elly ends what she views as a loveless engagement with Cooper hangs up life in Aurora Springs and heads for the more cosmopolitan Cadence City. She opens an herb emporium and quickly makes friends with her neighboring shop keeps. A dust bunny named Rose wanders into Elly’s life and moves in with Elly. Things are going well until Elly’s friend Bertha disappears in the catacombs. Elly is worried enough to contact her former fiancé when he comes to Cadence City in order to handle the ghosts of the catacombs. Yet, does she realize that Cooper intends to reestablish their engagement?
This is a work of romantic suspense and science fiction, putting it into the Our Strange World and Genre Blending subgenres. In her futuristic setting, Castle asks “What if there was another planet that was isolated from Earth and dwelled by humans?” Furthermore, Castle contemplates the survival and evolution of humans on Harmony. Humans have had to condition themselves to the ways of Harmony. She explores various psychic abilities in her Harmony books. This particular one focuses on ghost hunters, those who can dismantle detrimental balls of energy.
In some ways, Elly appears to be an outsider since she does not appear to have any really strong psi power. This may have her looking like Marilyn Munster to readers. Another characteristic which sets Elly apart is that she has adopted Rose, a dust bunny. Despite all of this, most characters in the book genuinely like Elly. I was impressed by the sense of community and good neighbor behavior Elly inspired in Cadence City as well as in Cooper.After having the web chat with Jayne Ann Krentz, I decided I wanted to read a Jayne Castle book for the science fiction assignment. I am not the biggest fan of science fiction but I certainly admire its goals and practices. Without science fiction, I do not believe we would ask about things which seriously need to be questioned. Nevertheless, I wanted to read something that could easily fall into multiple genres. The psychic ability concept fascinated me, too.
I liked this book because it had a good plot and did not bog me down with details of this alternate reality. Within this book, Castle shows readers like me that virtues are still valued in another setting. My only complaint about the book has very little to do with the novel or its writer. The book has some hunky Fabio-esque man on the cover. Not only would I be embarrassed to read anything with such a cover in public, I thought the guy on the cover looked nothing like the “male lead” in the book. If I had not wanted a Jayne Castle book, I would have passed this one up altogether due to the cover. Thank goodness for canvas book covers!
I would definitely recommend this book to women who like romantic suspense and science fiction. I think it would be a good gateway for women interested in trying science fiction. There is bad language and sex involved in the book but these elements naturally work with the plot. Readers easily offended by bad language and sexual situations probably should avoid Ghost hunter.
Three Out of Five Pearls.