I can hardly believe I just typed that title—”Specter debuts today.” It’s been a surreal journey from the start of this book to the end, and I mean that word—journey—in the most real way. At the start of it all, Specter was a concept that had been rattling around in my head for a while, but it took a flash of inspiration from some helpful muse for me to understand that the ghosts in the story weren’t supposed to be from the Victorian era, but rather from the 1980s. That realization, coupled with the knowledge that the book would be comparable to Stranger Things, pushed me to abandon a different manuscript at thirty thousand words. I didn’t want to miss the cultural moment caused by the juggernaut that is Netflix’s lovable TV show, and so I set myself a goal: have the book out by the timethe next season debuted.
A lot happened along the way. I made a career switch. My husband and I moved house. I became entirely disenchanted with traditional publishing and decided to go the indie route. A family member suffered a major injury.
But I’m on the other side of everything, everyone is happy and healthy, and Specter, beautiful and glowing, is ready for the world. 🙂
I’m going to skip the marketing spiel right now—I already covered all that in Friday’s post. If you’re wanting to check out the blurb, take a look at some five-star reviews, or read the first chapter, then head on over there. But what I will say is that Specter is a story with a whole lot of heart. I’m a slow writer as a general rule, but this story, Lanie’s story, demanded to be told, and it poured out of me. I’m extremely proud of this book, and I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it.
So please consider buying a copy—especially if you’re the type of person who’s ever gone back up the basement stairs a little too quickly, imagining someone is about to grab for your ankles. Or if you’re the type who loves a realistic heroine who takes matters into her own hands and becomes a badass along the way. Or if you’ve ever looked out into the woods and wondered exactly what kind of secrets might be hidden out there.
That’s who Specter is for. I hope you enjoy it. ❤ ❤ ❤
You guys, Specter debuts in just two days, and I’m beyond excited. Specter is a YA paranormal thriller perfect for any Stranger Things fan. If you like fast-paced thrillers with twists and turns that will seriously keep you guessing and strong female characters, then this is a book not to miss.
Want to preview the book? Chapter One is down below. ❤
Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.
Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
“Fans of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles, Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (throw-back!), and Netflix’s Stranger Things will binge this book from cover to cover… Her abounding wit, humor, and determination make Lanie so much more than a fictional character; she is the girl we’d all want at our lunch table, or hiking through a Connecticut woods with us on the most magical night of the year. Lanie is a girl we can root for, one many of us can relate to and one we certainly need to see more of.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
“Omg I devoured this book, can’t remember the last time I read a book so fast! I can totally see why it’s being pitched as similar to Stranger Things, since it’s very suspenseful with ghosts, demons, and an 80’s element (even though it’s not set in the 80’s).” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
“I love a good book about ghosts and specter doesn’t disappoint. I’m glad that I was able to relate to the main character since I’m introverted and I love horror movies. The books is fast paced and I didn’t really want to put the book down!” Entertainingly Nerdy, 5 stars
Want a sneak peek at Chapter One? Just keep reading. ❤
It turned out all the books and movies had gotten ghosts dead wrong. Still, I knew what I was dealing with from that very first glimpse. Just like you can tell a cat from a dog, some instinct thrummed through me, real deep and low in my gut, and I knew. The dead aren’t the living, and it was the dead I saw that day.
Day, not night—see? Granted it was October, but the way
early bit of October, too early for even me to be getting excited about
America’s best holiday. Plus it was sunny, plus
it was a Tuesday. If the days of the week were people, Tuesday would be
bumbling, adorable, and absolutely average—perhaps the younger cousin of trendy
and aloof Thursday. Nothing notable is supposed to happen on Tuesdays, let
alone anything supernatural.
I was in bed, wrapped up burrito-style in my blankets,
shivering from a fever and halfway to miserable—only halfway because it was
just about the time Mrs. Morrie would be handing out the math test I was
supposed to be taking. It’s funny how things work out; the night before I’d
considered faking sick to dodge the test, and now here I was, sick for real.
I was just sinking into a nap when the door creaked open,
followed by the light pad of footsteps. I snaked an arm out from under the
warmth of my comforter, my hand meeting soft fur.
“Hey, Mustard,” I croaked. The virus hadn’t spared my
throat. I patted the bed, and my golden retriever jumped up and began snuffling
my face, all whiskers and dog breath.
“Gross!” And as I pushed him away, I saw a flash of
blue-tinged skin in the corner of the room.
That was the next thing
that wasn’t right. It—she—had none of the silvery translucence from the
stories. In fact, she wasn’t see-through at all, her figure cast in slow-moving
blue shadows, like the sun making mottled patterns on the seafloor.
There was a ghost in my room—a ghost my age, her hair a big
mess of feathery curls straight out of an eighties movie, her clinging black
leotard and jeans vintage to match. And she was looking right at me.
I jerked back, yelping as my head collided with the
headboard. The ghost’s eyes widened. In my peripheral vision, Mustard was
making circles at the end of the bed, preparing for his thrice-daily nap. Didn’t he notice? Weren’t dogs supposed to
have a sixth sense for the paranormal? They could predict earthquakes and sniff
out cancer, after all. In the movies, dogs always gave early warnings about
And that’s why all the smarter ghosts in those same movies
always found some sinister way to get rid of the dog. I scrambled forward and gathered
Mustard up into an unhappy, squirming ball, then tried to leap out of bed, only
to get caught in the blanket. I tumbled to the ground, and Mustard wriggled
free from my arms. Shooting me a wounded look, he trotted from the room.
The bed skirt was blocking my view of the ghost. I sucked in
a steadying breath and willed myself to get up. Surely she’d be gone when I
stood up again, going for the jump-scare-then-leave kind of haunting. What a
great story this would make, narrated by upturned flashlight around a clichéd
campfire. I was lying sick in bed, then…
I pushed up from the floor with a groan.
“Fuck!” There she was, blue and muted, though she stood
directly in the sunlight beaming through the window. A vague, familiar feeling
quivered at the back of my mind…
The ghost was tracking me with her eyes. After a long,
silent moment, her lips twitched up into some horrid semblance of a smile. She
took a step forward.
“M-Mom?!” But my call was useless reflex only; she’d deemed
my fever just low enough to go into work for a few hours, rather than shuttling
me to the doctor. I was alone in the house—well, no one else alive was in
Call Mom so she can take you to the hospital. For that must be it—my fever
had climbed too high. Yet the ghost looked so real, and I couldn’t help but scan my room for something, anything, to use to fight back. I didn’t
keep my room stocked with weaponry, so I settled for the bedside table lamp,
yanking the cord from the wall and clutching it baseball bat-style.
Time for the first and likely final showdown between Lanie
Adams and Ghost Girl.
But she took another step forward—her sneakers were also
some retro style, I noticed—and icy fear rooted me in place. Just a
hallucination—a hallucination of a ghost who shops at Goodwill. I drew together
my fleeing scraps of courage and poked the lamp toward Ghost Girl’s stomach.
It passed straight through, without even a ripple at the
edges. I lurched back, gripping the lamp to my chest like a safety blanket.
“Not real,” I whispered, and the ghost frowned at me, as if to say, I beg to differ.
“What do you want?” I managed. My voice was a trembling
wreck. Didn’t ghosts usually have some sort of purpose, some wrong to be
righted or atrocity to be avenged? She opened her mouth to answer…
The words erupted as a garbled stream of syllables.
Fine, she could have the room; I was willing to vacate. I
threw down the lamp and vaulted over the bed, hurtling towards the door—
—Where I leaped straight through another bluish ghost, this
one a teenage boy standing right on the threshold.
That was when my hopes that this was all just a hallucination evaporated away. Have you ever taken a bath in a ghost? Suffice it to say that the experience is not pleasant—an aching kind of cold that seeps to the bone in the space of a heartbeat, banishing all memories of warmth. But I didn’t have to endure it for long. White sparks clouded my vision, then the world wavered and contracted to a pinhole.
I’m a huge fan of Stranger Things, so was immediately intrigued by Emily Henry’s When the Sky Fell on Splendor, which is obviously referencing the TV show with the cover. The alien component as well was interesting, since I’ve heard multiple people in the YA publishing sphere mention how aliens just kind of aren’t a thing for some reason, even though vampires, werewolves, mermaids, and their ilk have all had a turn in the spotlight. I #amwriting an alien book right now (lol, how cringy can I make this post? 😀 ). Even though my book’s more New Adult than YA, anything new even tangentially related to aliens right now is interesting to me, even just from a market research standpoint.
So I was pumped to read this book… and then it fell a bit flat for me. Something about the prose wasn’t connecting with me—perhaps too many details and flashbacks (oh, the many flashbacks!) that distracted from the main action. There are also too many characters in the MC’s friend group; I’d have cut at least two or three of them out. I understand that Henry was trying to illustrate how the unfortunate history of their town had influenced everyone a bit differently, but it was too many people to keep track of; I had to frequently backtrack to figure out who everyone was again. If there had been fewer characters, perhaps we could have seen more depth with the character development. A smaller, more careful approach is pretty much always going to be better than a scattershot method.
Huge, ending ruining spoiler incoming…
It turns out there aren’t even any aliens in this book. The cover’s basically a total lie; instead we discover that the entity the characters encountered in the beginning of the book is the soul of someone in the town. This fit with the navel gazey feel of the book, but I still felt a bit lied to as a reader. If I see an alien spacecraft on the cover, I want actually aliens, dammit. Don’t give me that huge tease, then only serve up misdirection. It was disappointing, rather than surprising. That was the point at which my three star review dropped down to two, since I felt it was kind of a betrayal of the audience.
So this is a sad pass for me, despite some fun moments throughout.