The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz
Debunking The Lore
It was only a month.
Only a month he had to stay in the haunted property was all Chris and his wife, Katherine had told him. Just long enough to research a book on the local lore and the haunted house.
Chris and Katherine hoped for a best seller to help unload the house at the maxium asking price and David, a college friend and current professor and writer, agrees to stay at the home for a month to properly research in Jonathan Janz' The Siren And The Specter.
Thinking the assignment to be more than easy and knowing that he will probably let him friend down in the wager, David expects to find nothing out of the ordinary at the estate minus the local legend that the first family on the property had been beheaded and had their heads lined up like Halloween jack o lanterns on the mantle piece.
The house was old and creaking like anything else historic in the region and the main property had been broken apart over the years into smaller cottages nearby Oxrun Park, an area surrounded by a tiny island that could be accessed by swimming.
This area was all too familiar to David and he was instantly angry with Chris for setting him up for staying in the house.
The first night alone, he avoids going up stairs at all costs and ends up meeting one of the cottage dwellers, an older man that offers him food and beer to wash away the uneasiness.
Still he can't stop thinking about his last memory of the place as a woman's voice begins to sing in the yard below.
Chris and Katherine had a bet to see exactly how long David could stay in the home to research the book. At least that is what they tell him, what the couple had actually lured David to the house for was far too sinister.
David's last memory of the park, a place that he visited back in college with friends, Chris and Anna was tainted by the last time he had entered Oxrun.
While the sad little playground where they wandered drunk and David and Anna had once made love was exactly the same but it was the night that David decided to cruelly break it off with her that stained his memory.
He wasn't sure why, he had actually loved her- the first woman that he could admit that about...But here it was the same thing that he told every girlfriend. He would never settle down, never have children. He never wanted anything long term and after almost a year with Anna her time too had run up and he couldn't explain why he no longer wanted her in his life.
They fought bitterly and Chris drove everyone home.
Shortly after, Anna was pronounced missing. Then the news had changed that the young woman had committed suicide.
David forever blamed himself and he wondered if it was Anna that was singing in the dark next to the water.
He saw a form with long dark hair, but never a face.
The Shelby House
After meeting more of the neighbors including a woman that had called the police on David after his wanderings in the park had come too close to her own cottage home, he began to have strange experiences with the Shelby family.
Realizing the strange couple that enjoyed beating on each other and the wife came close to seducing him, David realized they neglected their young children to the point of the foul mouthed young boy wandering the woods by himself to get away from his parents fighting and the malnourished young girl that sat in the corner with coloring book just inches from pornography playing on a television screen.
David had allowed the children to stay at his house as a safe place from their parents and reported their situation to the police, which wasn't resolved to his satisfaction, especially when shortly after the young girl goes missing.
While staying in David's house, he gets a glimpse of another ghost in the home, one of a charred figure dragging itself along, and then a man in period costuming descending the attic ladder.
Convinced that none of this could be real and that Chris and Katherine had to have hired actors to play up the history of the home for a better review and home listing, he begins to investigate only to find that his videos captured are only backing up the supernatural.
After the little girl goes missing, everyone begins to suspect that David might know more than he is letting on about the events going on inside his haunted house.
Jessica And Anna
David didn't realize it was her as many times as he looked into her face, then suddenly he could see it.
The woman that had called the police on David during his explanation was actually Anna's half sister, Jessica and she believed that her sister never could have killed herself.
Although she blamed David and Chris for never looking into her disappearance and accepting the story about her death, she didn't blame them anymore. She knew that the death of Anna was connected to that house somehow and had purchased the cottage on its adjoining land to be near the spot where her sister's life had ended just so she could figure it all out.
David had to believe her.
David had to help her as whatever had happened to Anna and many others that had died in the area had something to do with that house and maybe it had nothing to do with ghosts after all.
David and Jessica were uncovering the truth.
Chris had been obsessed with Anna and couldn't believe that David was just willing to throw her away like a discarded soda can. He intentionally bought the property where she had died even though he knew the rumors of the house's past. Then he waited for the right invitation.
While The Siren And The Specter is a ghost story at its root with characters that become possessed and commit terrible acts, this fast paced page turner only lacks in the connection between everything we have witnessed over the course of the book.
I loved that it went into the story of what happened to Anna and how David and Jessica went to try and stop the next killings before it happened, what the book lacked for me was any backstory on the ghosts.
Why were they there from the beginning? Why were they influencing the actions of others on the property?
Why were people never the same after they disappeared only to have the ghost inside them forcing them to commit the same crimes?
I wish as much thought had been put into the ghostly side of the tale as the mystery of the living.
It wasn't a bad book at all, but I walked away with no idea if the Siren was intended to be Anna or not.
Maybe I had missed something in the reading.
I feel like the Siren And The Specter missed its mark on if it wanted to be a mystery novel or ghost story and went a little light on both aspects although the writing was spectacular.