Friday, May 13, 2022

Review: Ghosts in the Closet by PJ McIlvaine

The moment I read the blurb on today's read, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It's a historical paranormal set in the US directly after the Titanic tragedy. And yep, the main character is a survivor of the catastrophe. She's also very wealthy, which adds a different twist on the usual characters, who need to fight their way up. But with everything going on...and that in such a short read...this character has enough to deal with as it is.

Ready for some mystery, spooks, murder and history? 

A Gripping Historical Mystery with Hints of the Paranormal
Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl
by PJ McIlvaine
Darkstroke Books
Young Adult Historical / Paranormal
141 pages

She sees ghosts…but are they malevolent or friendly?

Poor little rich girl Violet Yorke has seen ghosts for as long as she can remember, but no one believes her.

Not stodgy Grandmother, who took charge of the heiress after her parents were killed in a failed robbery. Nor kind-hearted Aunt Nanette, or Uncle Bertie, a charming rogue. Not even the patient Hugo Hewitt, Violet’s godfather and trustee of her vast fortune.

Everyone dismissed the child’s insistence about ghosts as a harmless eccentricity—until the night her bedroom caught fire. Violet was promptly sent overseas, fueling her anger and resentment.

Two years later, a rebellious twelve-year-old Violet is on her way back to Manhattan on the doomed Titanic. As the ship sinks into the deep Atlantic Ocean, she’s put in a lifeboat by an apparition who rescued her from the clutches of a jewel thief. Presumed lost at sea, Violet shocks everyone by crashing her own funeral.

Following Violet’s recovery, Grandmother has grand high society designs for the girl, but Violet has other ideas. She’s determined to uncover the secret of what really happened to her parents. Then there’s the mystery of the moon-faced boy at gloomy Dunham Hall and his connection to the ghost on Titanic. Also hot on Violet’s trail is the jewel thief, the specter of her murdered governess, and a vengeful ghost lurking in Violet’s childhood home.

Being a poor little rich girl in 1912 Gotham isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this delightfully dark and droll supernatural historical fantasy.



American history weaves with mystery and a pinch of the paranormal to form a gripping and intriguing read.

After a very adventurous trip with the Titanic, which left her a couple days in a hospital, Violet finally reaches her grandmother to find that they are in the middle of her, Violet's, funeral, since she was missing and presumed her dead. While Violet might have survived the historic wreck, she's wrapped into a deeper scheme, which has followed her since leaving the harbors of Europe. Not only does someone want her mother's jewels, but there's a murderer on the loose. Add a ghost, who may or may not have ill-intentions, and the mystery is anything but is the danger.

The blurb hooked me on this one, and I'm glad it did. The author does a wonderful job at bringing a historical time period to life, while creating a grabbing tale. The first pages already plunge into intrigue and adventure as Violet makes her way through a city alone, encounters her first dangers, and all of that to end up at a huge funeral. Even with all of this going on, the details of the historical setting are knitted in here and there. These portray life at the time without ever going into wordy descriptions, but rather, bring the details across right along with the quick-paced plot. Add that the characters each have enough back-story and depth to make them interesting, and this read packs quite a bit...especially since it remains under 150 pages.

I was surprised at how well this read rounds everything off while keeping to the length. There are quite a few characters, several sub-plots, and the mystery is definitely not easy to guess. Even Violet has enough personality to keep the reader invested. There was only one aspect which distracted me, and that was by no means enough to ruin the read. 

When I picked this one up, I thought it was a stand-alone or first in a new series, but when I started reading, there were always bits and pieces mentioned about Violet's trip on the Titanic, and I was convinced that I'd misunderstood and, actually, was reading the 2nd or 3rd book in a series. I was still going to mention that this one works as a stand-alone, since it still flows well and isn't hard to follow. After reading it, I discovered that there aren't any other books leading up to it, and that this Titanic part of Violet's life really is only mentioned when necessary...which is too bad, since there are attacks, attempted kidnapping, disappearances, ghosts, unexplained happenings, and much more, which supposedly happens during that time. So, it always felt like a part of the story was missing...which, in a way, is positive because I did intend to go back and pick it up. Too bad that's not possible.

This is definitely a well-done read and will thrill mystery fans, who love historical settings. It's quick, hard to guess, and flips time back into a rich setting.


Heather N. Quinn said...

This one does sound intriguing. And I love the cover!

PJ McIlvaine said...

Thank you so much!!