Title: He Speaks Dead
Author: Adrienne Wilder
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: LGBT Paranormal Suspense
Length: Novel (286 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: What hero could be more tortured than one who is already dead? The living man who is in love with him…
The Blurb: Charlie Harrington not only speaks with the dead and sees the dead, he can give them form. Lucky for him, because the love of his life, Ethan, is dead. Charlie helps Ethan possess complete strangers so Ethan can use their bodies for sex.
Things are good between them until Charlie is accused of murder and Detective Daniel Briggs walks into his life. For the first time in years, Charlie is attracted to someone who is living. Ethan knows he should step aside and let Charlie live his life, but he just can’t give Charlie up–even if staying with Charlie may eventually kill him
The Review: This book is written in Ethan’s first person POV – which is worth mentioning mostly because Ethan dies in the very first paragraph. Or rather, recalls his death. He can’t remember much else from his life except his last few minutes. And right afterward, the first thing he remembers is meeting Charlie as Charlie is brought back into his life by a pair of EMT’s.
Charlie is a very special person. He can’t only see dead people and speak to them, he can also make the dead corporeal, sharing his life force through his touch. In the early days of their relationship this was how Charlie and Ethan used to make love, but over the course of the years, it took its toll on Charlie, and so they resorted to Charlie helping Ethan taking over random strangers’ bodies for a limited amount of time as a means for them to have sex.
Just having Ethan around, being with him, weakens Charlie. He’s aware that the connection might eventually kill him, but thinks loving Ethan, being with Ethan is worth it. Besides, he’s been hovering between the worlds of the living and the dead for almost all of his life, and after working for the FBI even when he was a child, the world of the living doesn’t appeal too much to Charlie. That is, until Charlie meets Daniel, and for the first time in years feels attracted to a living person. Very much attracted, in fact, and the feeling is mutual.
Ethan can see the attraction, and of course he can also see how dear being with him costs Charlie. Since he loves Charlie and wishes for him to live, Ethan is even willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to give Charlie up so he can be with Daniel and live. But he hadn’t reckoned with Charlie’s stubborn determination, nor with the strength of his own feelings for Charlie. But Daniel is stubborn too, and his feelings are just as strong. Strong enough that he might be willing to share Charlie with a ghost. ..
However, bigger things are going on than this bizarre love triangle. What brought the three of them together in the first place was the murder of Charlie’s old mentor Roy Sullivan, a metaphysicist. Apparently Sullivan, like a modern day Dr. Faustus, dabbled with forces he couldn’t really control, and paid the highest price for underestimating them. However, darker, scarier beings than mere ghosts were set free through Sullivan’s hybris, and Charlie is the only one who can stop them. But he might very well be lost to a faith worse than death if Daniel and Ethan don’t combine forces in order to save the man they both love.
The narrator’s voice captured me right from the start, Easygoing, humorous without being snarky, wise and naive at the same time, Ethan comes alive on the pages. His feelings for Charlie are clearly strong, strong enough to keep him in the here and now, even make him human enough to be selfish and possessive while at the same time he’s selfless enough to try and give up Charlie, and with him his own very existence, to keep Charlie alive.
We only see Charlie through Ethan’s eyes, which may be why he often appeared larger than life, but Charlie certainly is a very special person. Being in love with a ghost isn’t easy, Charlie won’t deny that, but he’s committed for better or worse, and faithful to fault. And Daniel, who fell in lust with Charlie on first sight, and in love with him almost reluctantly later, must learn to accept this fact.
Although character development, Ethan’s in particular, was an important element here, this was mostly a plot-driven story. There were some outrightly grueling scenes, like the actual murder (thankfully somewhat concealed in a way I thought pretty smart), and some thrilling action. I also found the mystery well done; I, for my part, had a good and entertaining time figuring out what was going on along with Ethan. The author took a real effort in finding scientific explanations for some of the occurrences in the story; in fact, too much for my liking, as sometimes I felt hit over the head with facts . Likely rather a matter of taste.
I also had mixed feelings about the ending of the story. It was actually the best solution I could’ve imagined–and somewhat unexpected–it was also sad, even as beautiful as it was.
Overlooking the metaphysical musings, I’d warmly recommend this unusual, gripping, entertaining and well-written “ghost” story.