A ghost story set in Savanah ticked so many boxes for me that I could not wait to dive in. Especially as I’m guilty of being quite safe in my horror novels. I tend to return to writers I know well rather than seek out new voices. However, the chance to read Clementine’s Awakening by Jennifer Soucy (Demon in Me, Night She Fell) provided the much-needed opportunity to expand my horizons.
Clementine is ready to live her best life, starting with a new job at O’Hara’s Pub. But working as a server isn’t easy for a lifelong wallflower. She encounters a sympathetic ally in Rosemary, but there’s a problem: Rosemary’s a ghost, a former slave trapped for eternity in the pub.
The girls form an unlikely friendship. Clementine offers compassion to the lonely ghost, who defends her by playing harmless pranks on rude customers and cruel co-workers. Their activities soon attract another spirit—Deadeye Abernathy, the madman who murdered Rosemary 150 years ago.
Deadeye joins the fun, turning the pranks into gruesome attacks. Clementine must find a way to stop him before he destroys her friends and the new life she loves. But how can a human survive a battle between two ghosts in the Most Haunted City in America?
There are a few things to break down about what makes this novel so enjoyable. The first and important one is that, in the protagonist, Jennifer Soucy has created a brilliantly fleshed out character. From the first chapter, I felt myself rooting for her. From her painful home life to chronic self doubt Clementine has potential hero written all over her. As the novel progresses, a reader can’t help but feel pride for her when she starts to make strong choices for herself. I found the section where Clementine deals with her childhood abuse especially touching. Her growth and development play out as the story progresses.
The cast of other characters are richly fleshed out and feel like they have their own journey and story as well. Personally, the only in this respect was Clementine’s love interest. While he is an important part of her journey, their relationship building bogged down the middle of the novel. However, when Soucy focuses on Clementine and her best friend Lulu, the relationship feels so real and powerful that you want to be part of their gang. Especially when you throw in the cast at the restaurant. All the characters feel like real people you would encounter.
Jennifer Soucy’s novel makes for a nice read, with effective use of language and world building. From the setting in Savannah, to O’Hara’s pub and the characters that inhabit Clementine’s world, she created a rich tapestry for the reader to enjoy. There few minor niggles here and there for me include the aforementioned love interest as well as being a bit “horror light” for my own personal tastes.
That said, Clementine’s Awakening still falls under the horror banner. Main villain Deadeye marks a brilliant addition to the list of “ghosts I never want to meet”. The horror elements feel very similar to the likes of the “True Blood” series. If you’re a fan, then you will love this story. It’s a perfect read now that winter has left us and we’re in spring.
Clementine’s Awakening is available on Amazon from Silver Shamrock Publishing.