Review of ‘What the Dead Want’ by Norah Olson

What the Dead WantWhat the Dead Want by Norah Olson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What the Dead Want was a bit of a let-down for me. The cover –that cover!!– is amazing, but unfortunately, the book itself wasn’t.

Gretchen has just inherited her mother’s ancestral home from her great-aunt, and being that her mother has been missing for the last five years, Gretchen hopes that her presence in the house will help garner clues as to her mother’s disappearance. The house, though, is much more ruinous than expected, and then there is the matter of the ghosts that are haunting the home…ready to inflict pain upon any who enter…

Reading my own very much condensed summary of the book, it seems that it should have been better, but I just did not feel spooked by the appearance of any of the ghosts, and even when there would be maliciousness or “scary” spirits, it just wasn’t scary to me.

Then there was the heavy subject of racism. The time period being focused on is that of pre to post Civil War America, and the Underground Railroad. Obviously, racism will never be an easy thing to read about, but the way it was presented in this book (a female character in the past expresses her horror in a journal that coincides with the main storyline) seemed so…forced… I’ll try and hopefully be able to explain what I mean. I do very much appreciate those who stand against any type of racism and are willing to fight it when they have circumstances to do so, but when it was brought up in this book, I couldn’t help but feel like the author was trying to prove that she was very much anti-racism. I would have preferred reading about what the character did to help in flashbacks, as opposed to journal form, then maybe I wouldn’t have had to be convinced of her sincerity, but genuinely believe it. Definitely a negative for me.

As for the characters in the book, they really were not all that interesting to me, and I can’t think of anyone that actually stood out to me. I didn’t feel a connection to any, and none were remotely special to me.

Honestly, as I come to a close with my review, I think I am going to revise my overly generous rating of 3 stars down to 1, because even though this was an easy, fast read, I really didn’t like this book and can’t bring myself to recommend it.

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