I occasionally download and review books from Story Cartel. I’m so glad I found Ghost Light here a few weeks ago, quite by chance, because it’s a fabulous novel. I’d like to introduce you to LeeAnne Hansen, because I became her fan almost from page one. This post includes a short blurb, my review, and an author interview.
Fiona Corrigan sometimes has difficulty discerning between the reality of stage and real life, especially when it comes to the attentions of her handsome co-star, the dark, brooding, Patrick Berenger.
Before they can depart for Edinburgh for their next performance, Patrick and Fiona’s acting troupe are mysteriously summoned to a remote village in Scotland, in the dead of winter. Once there, although stranded by a massive storm, Fiona is happy that she will finally have the time alone with Patrick that she needs to seduce him.
Unfortunately, Fiona couldn’t have anticipated Sean’s appearance, (Patrick’s equally handsome, drunken cad of an older brother) or his devastating effect on both her and Patrick. Nor could she have anticipated the true purpose of the strange summons by the eccentric landlord, the dark secrets he would reveal in twisted ways, or the identity of the phantom woman who haunted the stage each time the ghost light went dark.
Set in 1920’s Scotland, Ghost Light is equal parts tingling romance and chilling ghost story.
My 5-Star Review
Sometimes it takes a few pages to get into a novel, but this is another novel I knew I’d love from the first line. ‘Devon slammed his glass down onto the wooden desk, sloshing whiskey onto his hand.’ Then a very theatrical exchange between two lovers takes place. A few pages on, the passage ends with ‘Then the lights fell to black. And the curtain dropped.’ Fabulous! I knew the novel would mix reality and fiction, real life and stage life, and it did not disappoint.
There are two unusual and impossible love stories, which are linked to form a complex love triangle. The brooding and moody Patrick, and his fiery and impulsive brother, Sean.
The love story in the novel is Fiona’s journey of self-discovery. What does she want from life? What is love? Who does she love? The decision seems easy, at first, but soon their relationships become more intense, and Fiona realizes she desires real love and passion, instead of a romantic idealization of love. The outcome is traumatic, as she continues to deny her need for real love. There are moments she seems to prefer to experience an ideal yet imaginary love on stage, because she is afraid of unleashing her real passion.
It is an intense novel because the characters are a group of actors who travel to an isolated Scottish village, Loglinmooth, just as winter is falling. Most of the action takes place in a spooky castle and a haunted old family theatre, which has been opened for the purpose of their visit, to put on a play. All the characters are well-developed; merry Abby, enigmatic, dark Gavin, enthusiastic and encouraging Nicolas, their director, and inspiring and learned Andrew the playwright, to name a few.
There’s a cryptic letter, a mysterious train journey, a disappearing coffin carrying the brothers’ cruel, dead father. A vampire-like butler, a vanished mother, whom many believe to be a ghost, a ghost, a murderous plot, a murderer, a play which mirrors the characters lives, and lots of chilling moments along dark passages and rickety backstage.
It has all the ingredients of an entertaining and chilling ghost story, with engaging characters, a sound plot, and a passionate love story. A wonderful winter read!
I contacted LeeAnne on Twitter, before I even finished Ghost Light to tell her how much I was enjoying it. When I finished reading (a sad moment because I was having such fun!), I asked her for an author interview, and here it is:
1- Ghost Light is set almost entirely in a small Scottish village, including a haunted castle and old theatre. Could you tell us what inspired you to write this novel? Is it based on a true story or event?
Well, there was a personal experience but sadly it was not in a castle. A few years back, a friend and I attended a play together to see a mutual friend perform. The theater had this plaque in the lobby dedicated to their ghost light. My friend that was with me had never heard of a ghost light which had surprised me because having grown up and gone to school in theater, I just always assumed it was something that everyone knew about. So, as I was explaining to him how it was meant to keep ghosts away but most likely to keep people from tripping at night I realized that Ghost Light would be a great title for a novel. That thought later inspired me to touch on a few other theater traditions and superstitions in Ghost Light; for example, to never whistle on stage, or mention that cursed Scottish play Macbeth by name, things like that. And in addition, having traveled to Scotland and Ireland, I found the setting and atmosphere there just right for a ghost story.
2- I’ve noticed that both your novels to date, Ghost Light and Yonder include ghost stories. Why are you so interested in ghosts? Do you believe in ghosts?
Well, I am a huge fan of the mysterious and unexpected, like The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock movies as well as classic ghost stories like The Shining or The Haunting of Hill House. I love a story where the main characters have set goals they are trying to achieve but something unexpected or unexplained enters that plan. As for ghosts, I have had a few experiences with them and the thing I have found is that whenever the topic of ghosts comes up, almost everyone has their own story or wants to hear yours. Nora Roberts used a metaphor to talk about ghosts once that said something about when a plant dies the roots still remain or are left behind. I always really liked that.
3- What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to read Yonder?
Yonder is a mix of so much of me and that time period. It has the music I just adore of the 20s-40s. The chapter headings are all songs from that era. (I even created my own playlist for the songs and listen to it constantly while I am writing.) It is also close to my heart and past, being that my Grandmother was from Mississippi and she was Southern through and through, not to mention the cover of Yonder is her statue my Grandfather (who fought in World War II) gave her. Yonder also has a bit of what it was like growing up in the Bible Belt, which is a hard thing to explain to people outside of that belt, but it is the world that the character’s of Yonder exist in and it was part of my childhood. I also think the 1940’s was such a romantic and beautiful time period and if I had a time machine I would travel back to the dances my Grandmother always talked about. I love the music, the clothes, the fact that there was no text messaging or social media complication; it just seems like the perfect world for a girl to get swept off her feet.
4-What’s your writing routine like?
I establish the characters first and then let them tell me their story. I don’t really plot. For example, the villain in Ghost Light was never intended to be evil, they just literally stepped up and took over. I was completely surprised. Although, looking back now, all the clues were right in front of me, even if I wasn’t totally aware of placing them there. Another example would be, in Yonder there is a scene with Isabel sitting on a dock and she impetuously throws off her dress and leaps into the lake … which surprised the hell out of me! What can I say? That girl is a hot mess and she just likes to take over whenever she can.
5- What are you working on now?
The sequel to Yonder called The Great Hereafter. It is quite an experience that book. It has gotten darker than I had expected. Our poor main character has one hell of a story to tell.
6- What would you like readers to know about you?
Well, I adore Monty Python. I have the biggest crush on Dean Martin. I love me some chocolate salted caramels. I am a huge romantic. I also have a scar above my eye from believing Peter Pan had taught me to fly. One of my first stories I had written as a child was Star Wars fan fiction … I will not be sharing that one but it was written in different colored ink that varied page from page.
I love this picture of LeeAnne. Doesn’t she look like a character straight out of her novels?
Thank you for visiting my blog, LeeAnne.
You can find her books in the following links: