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Not Up To Carol Goodman's Usual Standard
on 5 May 2015
I have read most of Carol Goodman's books and really enjoy her style of writing. The stories are not fast moving, but the narrative is normally beautifully crafted and typically fascinating as echoes of the past brush with the present, generally with supernatural overtones.
Hence The Ghost Orchid was a surprising disappointment. Set in the present day, the Bosco Estate is a sanctuary for creative writers. Ellis (female) is writing a book on the strange events which occurred on the estate in 1893 which included deaths and the unexplained disappearance of Alice, the child of the house. Gradually these events come to dominate the present day as their secrets are revealed amidst a crescendo of spooky happenings.
I think that less is usually more with ghost stories and it is best to leave most to the imagination of the reader. Here the converse rather proves the point. It does not help that after a slow start, the central revelation is fairly clearly telegraphed by the middle of the book. I would rate the book as being at least 100 pages too long as the story, and indeed the reader, are submerged under a welter of revelations, hauntings and improbable coincidences.
Overextending books and having too much going on are often mistakes of novice authors so with three successful books under her belt it is really surprising that Goodman fell into these traps. She remains one of my favorite authors, but had The Ghost Orchid been the first of her works I had read it would likely have also been the last.