The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar
Released: January 23, 2012
Series: Lost Souls #1
Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it’s her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles’s house, she finds a wraith who doesn’t act like he should.
The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him—a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she’ll have her supernatural abilities bound.
When Janus Ostara—local supernatural mob boss—shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn’t need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.
Between uncovering Sylvia’s disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he’s supposed to be dead…
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Sorry the post is late today. I was travelling home yesterday and spent the day catching up with my family instead of online. 🙂
The Stubborn Head is a nice little novella, coming in at 20,000 words. The basic story is staightforward: Rachel works as the regional representative for the Order of Rescue Mediums in Vancouver. (Woo, Canadian setting!) The Order has strict rules about engaging spirits: once you start, you can’t stop or fail, or you’re out. And not just out but shunned and erased, with your powers restricted, so the stakes are pretty high when Rachel confronts a wraith that behaves atypically.
I really like the world that Natasha Hoar has set up. Obviously, there’s not a ton of world building since the word count is low but I did have a good sense of the series mythology by the end of the story. It comes out in bits and pieces but it’s all there by the end, which makes me look forward to the second story in the Lost Souls series.
That being said, I did feel like the author was trying to cram too much story into The Stubborn Dead. There are side plots like the Janus stuff mentioned in the blurb that felt a little forced. I think the story would have been better served by having only a single side plot since 20,000 words really isn’t that much. I applaud Natasha Hoar’s ambition but it made reading a bit jerky at first since the transitions between plot lines felt abrupt at the beginning. I hope that future stories will deal with these storylines and I look forward to seeing what happens next.