Title: The Patience of a Dead Man
Author: Michael Clark
Page Count: 356 pages
Rating: 3.5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨✨
He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside. Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?
First, thank you so much to the Night Worms organizers, and to the author Michael Clark. This book was provided along with Book 2 in the series and a whole slew of little goodies in exchange for an honest review, and I’m so appreciative of the effort that’s gone into crafting this story & Michael Clark’s branding! I read this alongside the rest of the Night Worms review team for a #nightwormsbookparty, and as always, it was wonderful to see what everyone else thought!
Ghost stories and haunted houses are two of my absolute favorite tropes in horror fiction, and I started this one very eagerly, hoping to be spooked out of my mind. The story starts off very strong – the end of the first chapter left me wanting more! Unfortunately, the next 200 pages or so were difficult for me to get through, and this resulted in me feeling pretty mixed about my reading experience overall despite enjoying the last 60ish pages of the book.
I loved the setting of this one, and always appreciate the detail that goes into really fleshing a place out in the ‘mind’s eye’ of the reader. A sprawling estate with its own grounds complete with a little forest and a pond – how quaint! Having lush descriptions is always a plus for me, but here, I didn’t feel that the descriptions were given so much as forced on me to the detriment of the story, unfortunately. Rather than allowing me to come to my own conclusions or build a mental idea of things from the writing, I’m told point-blank about things, giving my imagination absolutely no room to breathe within the story.
In addition to being told everything rather than shown, the book is littered with diagrams and maps, making me feel as if it were almost assumed that my mental acuity might not be up to the task of understanding the story without them (it is, I promise). When I read a book, I like to be given the benefit of the doubt that I can keep up without being spoon fed, and that just wasn’t how it felt in this one for me.
I also had a lot of trouble with some of the characters. Tim was about as interesting as bland bowl of plain oatmeal, and I found myself getting annoyed time and time again at how lackluster his effort was in doing anything other than making poor decisions, or getting his friends to figure things out for him so he didn’t have to. There are these journals in the book, and they’re absolutely instrumental to the story, but for some reason our Tim just “doesn’t read”, and can’t bother to get through them to discover what the hell is going on until his real estate agent digs in — what? Apologies, but if I’m feeling physically threatened by a dead woman, I’m sure as heck gonna read whatever I can get my hands on to get to the bottom of it. I just didn’t find the characters I was meant to be rooting for relatable or believable – in fact, I started looking forward to the chapters about the past & the journal much more than the ones about good ol’ Tim.
I do feel like this should have gone through a few more rounds of edits, as it feels a little bloated in terms of content. I think this would make for an incredible novella – maybe even something slightly longer. I just don’t feel like there was enough happening here to justify almost 400 pages.
THAT ALL SAID, I do want to be very clear that I didn’t dislike the book overall. I had some issues, and I always try to be honest about those in my reviews, but not everyone will feel the way I did.
I found the main ‘bad guy’, Mildred, to be absolutely compelling. I LOVED reading about her, I loved the snippets of backstory we got about her, and I was so intrigued by her past and the role it plays in our story. I’ve heard that Book 2, DEAD WOMAN SCORNED, goes a lot more into the history, and I will definitely be reading that ’cause I need to know where this goes!
Michael Clark definitely has some storytelling chops, and I’m looking forward to starting the sequel soon!
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