Thanks to NetGalley and Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op for providing an ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: After a near death experience caused by the park’s star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won’t let her live life to the fullest. She’s come at the insistence of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech’s psychological effect on the user.
But when a computer virus sets the ghosts free and the park goes into lockdown, the trio find themselves trapped in an endless nightmare.
With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape…or become Ghostland’s newest exhibits.
Ghostland is a wild and crazy thrill ride that’s most definitely not for the faint of heart! This is no Disney’s Haunted Mansion. No, these ghost commit bloody, gory mayhem with gleeful abandonment, and no one is safe from them, not even infants and children.
The opening scene is one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. A creepy house moving slowly through the streets of a small town, at first glance, seemingly on its own. That we discover that it’s on wheels and being taken to a planned haunted theme park, is small comfort. The story then picks up a few years later with now eighteen-year-old Ben and Lil once close friends, now worlds apart because of Ben’s close brush with death. They both have their reasons for visiting Ghostland and while they begin the day as near strangers, they are soon united in their determination to make it out of the park alive.
I loved Ben immediately, but it took me awhile to warm up to Lil. I found her treatment of Ben puzzling and abhorrent, but as more is revealed about his near death, I understood her more and eventually wound up emphasizing with her. The rest of the characters are fairly one-dimensional, but this doesn’t really detract from the story that much. It’s Ben and Lil that you become invested in and root for, the others are mostly just fodder for the murderous ghosts.
The world building with its mix of technology and the paranormal is visually stunning and sucked me right into the terrifying theme park. The ebook is cleverly interactive which further fleshes out Ralston’s imaginative world. The pacing is insanely fast and despite this being over 400 pages long, I easily finished it in two sittings.
At the end of the book the author talks about what inspired him to write Ghostland, and how this is just the beginning, which pleases me immensely because the ending has me wanting more. While the two main protagonists are teens, this is definitely not a YA novel, and Ghostland, with all its blood and gore isn’t going to be for everyone. But for horror fans who don’t mind decapitations and loss of body parts, disembowelments, and other assorted disgusting chaos, you should definitely give this a try. I cannot wait to see where Duncan Ralston takes his creation next!