Review: Pandora’s Box by Scott Howe

A good layered ghost story with so much potential to be an epic tale for paranormal readers

Synopsis

Emily has accepted a new position in Rochester, New York, having recently terminated a two-year romance with the man she expected to marry. While settling into her modest one-bedroom apartment, she has an eerie encounter with a striking little girl who looks as if from another era. Terrified, but curious, Emily uncovers that her apartment was once occupied by a once-famous silent film actress, who died in Emily’s bedroom in 1985. Emily is quickly pulled into a nightmare and forced to confront the fact that something malevolent is lurking within the apartment, something that knows of a secret Emily has carried since childhood, for It’s the same secret that forever altered the tragic life of her apartment’s former tenant: one of Hollywood’s most sensual and iconic silent film stars, Louise Brooks.

Pandora’s Box by Scott Howe has all the ingredients I want in an amazing ghost story:

  • A solid hook that piqued my interest and pulled me forward.
  • A relateable main character who is flawed and human
  • A circle of supporting cast members who are equally relateable (especially the bestie)
  • A slow burn to the paranormal
  • A riveting unravel as the characters’ stories become entangled
  • A fantastic secondary storyline equally as intriguing and engaging
  • A clean wrap up

I loved Emily and Chloe. They reminded me of the relationship I have with my best friend. They’re honest with each other and so supportive, even in the face of something that would seem ridiculous at the start (to be fair, we go ghosthunting together, so…).

I loved that their line of work lends towards the believability of both the case with the Scarecrow Killer and the paranormal activity surrounding the death of Louise Brooks.

Oh, and yes, I absolutely loved that the character of Louise Brooks is based on an actual person! I checked out the links that the author included at the end of his book, and wow, she lived quite the life! Mr. Howe did her life justice as he blended her story into his, and I’m here for it.

So if I loved these pieces so much, why did I only give it three stars?

The short answer: I believe the story is worth reading, but I wish it flowed better.

The long answer is, well, longer.

Like I said, the story has all the right ingredients for an epic ghost story. I believe that with every fiber of my being, as both an editor and a paranormal author. The problem is that this story is plaqued with issues that took me out of the story:

  • So much telling vs showing. Emily told us what was going on, or what she saw, instead of just experiencing it, so we can watch it in our heads like a movie.
  • Too many long paragraphs that forced me to stop and reread to figure out what was going on.
  • Too many adverbs, many in tandem with unnecessary dialogue tags.

These really hurt the story for me. I hope the author sees my criticism as constructive and adjusts either this story or future stories, as I would love to see more work from him.

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