I’ll begin this review with a disclaimer: I’m not sure Paracosm: Bleath: The Hauntings qualifies as a haunted house novel. True, the main character, Zoe, inhabits the Wilmont House while she stays in the town of Bleath. Strange things are afoot in this house. Truthfully I don’t remember all the specifics, but things within the house change. Perhaps the wall paper takes on a different design, or a vase of flowers appears to her on a table, a vase that her guest cannot see. Then there is another house where séances are conducted. In this house she sees a ghost. But the houses are merely components of a larger and more encompassing milieu of eeriness. What is truly haunted in this story it the town of Bleath itself.
Zoe Cosgrove is working on a thesis. She is studying the paracosms of children. Paracosms are “imaginary worlds created inside one’s mind” (wikipedia). It just so happens that there exists a town that has an anomalous number of children that helplessly succumb to such imaginary worlds. You guessed it – the town is Bleath. Zoe embarks upon a fieldtrip to Bleath where she sets up home visitations with the households of the children that have created Paracosms. The mayor of the town is very accommodating. He permits her to stay in the Wilmont house. Its former owner has passed on, but the house is furnished and otherwise habitable. The mayor’s son, Karstan, roughly the same age as Zoe, takes a liking to her and romance begins.
Oh, did I mention that the town is a tourist attraction for ghost seekers? Did I mention that the many people in the town, including the mayor and his family, are mediums that conduct séances? Well, I’m mentioning this now.
From the very beginning, Paracosm: Bleath: The Hauntings unloads promising premises. Does it deliver on these promises? Answer: Sort of. The characters are interesting, the themes are creative, and the description of the town, its people, stores and culture is thorough and inviting. But –perhaps – there is too much going on? There are several strands of twisting plots. Some of these twists spin the plot in dizzying directions, leaving behind several loose ends. I believe this book is the beginning of a series. Also, it has connections to another series written by Allyn. Maybe when the entirety of the series is complete, everything will fall into place. For now, I am giving this book a lukewarm recommendation. It has its finer moments, but there are several elements of plot that are rushed and not well knitted into the whole.
I am, however, anxious to try a second book of Allyn’s. The book is called Dollhouse.
Check it out: http://anyaallyn.com/project/dollhouse/