Recently, I broke one of my own reading rules. Long ago, I learned that I have to be very careful what kind of books I read because if I read something that is too dark, I have nightmares for weeks afterwards.
Then a few weeks ago, I discovered the blog that Anne Frasier had created for her latest novel and on which she had posted Chapter 1 of Pale Immortal. That chapter piqued my interest enough that I continued to check back and later when she posted Chapter 2, I knew I was hooked. I had to know what happened to those characters.
For years, Graham Stroud's mother has threatened to leave him with his father in the town of Tuonela as if that was the worst punishment she could inflict upon him. But when she actually does abandon him on Evan Stroud's doorstep just days before his sixteenth birthday, Graham finds not the evil monster of his mother's tales but a man inflicted with a rare disease in which Evan must constantly guard against being exposed to sunlight.
Evan reluctantly agrees to take Graham in while DNA tests are being done to determine if Graham's claim to be his son is true. Over the course of the following days, for the first time in his life Graham begins to feel hope that some kind of "normal" life is possible for him.
However, all is not well in Tuonela. It is a town haunted by it's past. And when the morning after Graham's arrival in town, the body of a young woman is found completely drained of blood, that past is brought chillingly into the present.
County Coroner and Medical Examiner, Rachel Burton is called upon to investigate. But she soon has another body on her hands, an old, long dead, (and until recently) buried body but one which she suspects may be that of the Pale Immortal, himself.
Anne Frasier creates characters we want to get to know better. We begin to care what happens to them. And that's why I found myself reading the type of suspense/thriller I usually steer away from. I cared about those characters, stuck with them even as the story grew darker, creepier and more disturbing. I stayed with them through to the end.
That's what good storytelling does. It captures us and won't let us go. Anne Frasier has earned herself a new fan.