My review contains spoilers and they're are mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
This book was totally worth it; me taking chance on a new-to-me author! Bryn Donovan’s Sole Possession was an excellent horror/mystery read with sweet romance blooming between the H, David and the h, Andi. The story itself had me glued to the book. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything close to horror or haunting theme, though I read Paranormal. I even loved the ex-priest Morty who helps Andi and David along the way while they battle the evil of the mansion David inherits from his deceased father.
Do you remember that scene in The Sixth Sense, when the little boy tells Bruce Willis that he can see dead people? Well, every time I read about Andrea or Andi, I keep thinking about that scene, even though it’s been quite a long time since I’ve watched that movie. I loved it of course, and felt for the little boy who was so scared and didn’t know how to handle this situation that is beyond his control. In case of Andi, you can say almost the same. She didn’t have emotional support where her special ability was concerned. Her parents never believed in her ability (not that I can entirely blame them) and so, when she kept seeing that young girl crying in her bedroom mirror at a tender age, her parents were worried. After numerous visits with different shrinks and various drugs, when she stopped seeing ‘things’, Andi thought she’s cured of that craziness. Her only sister, younger Lissa knew. Lissa is a realist and (I thought) a bit on the cold side. I still admired Andy the way she handled her ‘situation’ almost all on her own, not having anyone to share it with. Then she got her degree, got a job, left it and got into the profession of a contractor; a job her father did, and she helped, a job she had always loved. House renovation was Andi’s passion and even though people might think her crazy for not getting a ‘real’ job, Andi thinks she could be happier this way. Her love life hasn’t been successful so far and she’s not the type to jump from men to men. Then there was the matter of her little problem. I really felt for her as it seemed like Andi has been fighting alone always.
Her job leads her to this new one which could be big for her. A man wants contractor to do wood-works in his mansion. When Andi steps out of her car in front of that big mansion, she felt that familiar dread overwhelming her. She hasn’t felt that way for a long time, and so, she got confused… and a bit scared. She jumps into her coping mechanism, which is almost always to try to ignore it. But the sickly feeling doesn’t go away. Andi still meets the man who has been waiting for the contractor. It’s the owner himself, David. Andi falls for him from the first moment, if not love, definitely lust. David is every girl’s dream; devilish handsome, tall and muscular with green eyes. Andi can’t but keep staring at him. With her short stature (poor you, I know just how you feel lol), it’s nothing new for her to stare up at people. But her daydream gets shaken when David tells her that she can’t work here. Andi takes it personally thinking he’s gender biased. Then Andi tries to make him see that she fits the bill for the type of work he’s looking for. As she was showing something on the wooden stairwell close by, Andi sees something terrible on the wood; a man with a nasty face and smile, someone who exudes pure evil. A flash of that, and Andi goes pale. David doesn’t understand of course, but as Andi puts herself together, somehow they work on it and make a deal about Andi getting the job.
Andi gets to know a few of the people already working there, especially a man named Carlos doing the stonework. Anyway, Andi’s happy to get the job and wants to prove David the sexy that she can do it. She shares her apartment with Lissa, who’s engaged to be married very soon. As the sisters talk about her new deal, the topic of David comes up inevitably. Hearing his name, Lissa suddenly identifies him as a Casanova lawyer who’s rich as Croesus and doesn’t keep one woman more than a few days. Andi is suddenly depressed. She’s been burned by some rich, good looking dude in the past and doesn’t trust in those sorts anymore. Was the pull she felt towards David all wrong, nothing more than lust? Lissa warns her off the man, asking to not get her heart break again.
Up to this point I was enjoying the book immensely. As Andi and David get to know each-other, some stuffs become clear. Yes, David doesn’t do relationships. We get to learn some of his past affairs, all no-strings attached sex. He hardly stays with one woman more than a few weeks, all those model-types, who don’t look for anything more. And that did make David look like a douche to me. Then, in a matter of few days, Andi and David exchanges kisses and then, they jump into bed. I just couldn’t believe it. It killed a bit of the fun initially since the ‘connection’ that the author kept mentioning about, I didn’t really feel it. But all these were a very small part of the story, until the haunting keep appearing. David starts relying on Andi, trusting her since somewhere deep inside, he feels the same way Andi does. David tells her about his abusive and violent father who cheated on her mother over and over again. His had been a rich family to begin with but his father was equally small-minded. David’s mother committed suicide right after he was born. What David doesn’t tell Andi that when he was a young boy, he had seen his mother in the same third floor bathroom, on the very same bathtub where she died. She was trying to speak to him but he couldn’t hear anything. David tells Andi that his father was abusive towards his girlfriends too. A young David had seen enough to know. Somewhere in his mind, that little boy was still there, confused and hurt since he’d never really known the love of a parent. David blames himself for his mother’s suicide, thinking his birth was the reason. And David’s father never could endure him, often beat him up, until David grew old enough to leave. Now, the SOB has left him nothing but this pile of rubble.
Andi also doesn’t tell David about the fact that she’d already seen his mother the same way but probably more vividly because of her psychic ability. Of course, she wasn’t sure if to rely on him about her secret. While working one day, she sees a man in black suit, looking up at her; his head bashed in, eyes sad and haunted. Andi doesn’t know what to do when he appears while she was working on the stairs. But the man doesn’t disturb her and vanishes. Andi thinks she should mention David about these things. Then in one of their times together, Andi confesses about her special gift. Obviously, David didn’t believe it outright but with his experience he couldn’t outright deny Andi’s ability either. So, they exchange these facts. David becomes worried about Andi’s safety. In between they start staying together most of the times, keeping busy with themselves when they weren’t worrying about the house. Andi is a bit scared about her new-found relationship with David. She doesn’t do these kind of things and right now, her relationship doesn’t have a name other than the f*ckbuddy-type. Andi doesn’t know if this would evolve into something deeper, if ever. Yet, in the midst, I start keep seeing the connection. How David is always attuned to Andi, as she is. How he cares for her and shows her in little ways.
One day, something else happens. Carlos starts singing this song that mentions a lady called Irene. Andy already knew that Carlos had a feeling that the house had something going on. He even had a La Anima Sola candle burning close by. When Carlos kept repeating that song, Andi good-naturedly jokes with him. Then she’s in the kitchen where he was supposed to be working, only to find him sitting still, staring up at the space. Something Andi does that triggers violence in Carlos, and he almost ends up killing her. Andy is saved because of David’s timely appearance. Carlos is fired that instant. Andy had to keep David from killing Carlos this time. But neither David, nor Andi could tell what might’ve gone wrong with the trusty contractor. David wants to take Andi to the hospital but she refuses to go. But these incidents bring them closer than ever. David is still worrying about Andi’s safety... even though, sometimes, something in his head would tell him that hurting Andi would be such a satisfying thing to do…
After this incident, Andi and David get to the business of researching about the house and learn of the identity of an Irene in David’s ancestry. Those are shady stuff I tell you, about abusive, violent males and missing wives and friends who never turned up alive. And they all lived in this house since the late 19c, when it was built by a man named Edgar, one of David’s ancestors. David is really depressed by this history and only more firm in his conviction that he would also someday turn out to be like his abusive relatives. This is why he has always distanced himself from a serious relationship. And now that Andi’s here, he doesn’t know what to do because he has already started caring for her. He knows she’s not the type who wants those no-strings-attached things.
We meet Mr. Willingham, the original landscaper for the property soon. Andi recognizes him when he comes to pay a visit. She saw him staring at the house the first day she came here. Willingham is really glad to see David all grown up. Apparently, the man lived and worked on the property for a long time before moving on. He has been very fond of David as a kid, and David returns the feelings still. The older man takes up the job of clearing the property, which David was more than happy to give him. But things don’t go well. One day while working on a tree, Mr. Willingham is attacked by someone and is badly hurt. Andi witnesses it all, along with the black-suited man who attacks him. She is horrified by the evil vibe that comes from that unholy man. David and Gloria, the estate agent, don’t see anything. David believes that Andi has seen something, but Gloria doesn’t. After taking Willingham to the hospital, they discuss about this incident. Andi doesn’t understand why this black-suited man, who didn’t give any evil vibe to her before, suddenly turned this violent. She decides it’s time to bring in some pro. David, even after everything, scoffs at the idea of engaging professional psychics. But he gives in when Andi puts her foot down.
The first hunt for a psychic goes wrong but when they meet Morty, a middle aged ex-priest, Andi immediately feels that he’s the real deal. David is still confused about what to believe but I know why he might feel this way. Not seeing something is not believing in it as well, most of the times anyway. Morty doesn’t give them a very promising appearance. He permanently reeks of alcohol and lives in a shabby little apartment. Morty senses Andi’s power immediately as well. They get down to the business of discussing the case at hand. Now, Morty was an interesting character. He’s a lot more than his appearance as we soon get to experience ourselves. He gives them the idea of a planchett to find out about the entities that are roaming the houses. By now they know that there is Irene, one of David’s great-great-grandmothers, David’s mother Katherine and a friend of Edgar’s, Clarance.
I totally loved the whole atmosphere of the planchett scene. It was so spooky! The author wove the tale so well about the whole Girard Mansion mysteries that I got creeped out more than once. This scene, where David gets to meet his mother for the first time (and starts believing in supernatural for real) was very emotional. Andi senses Katherine and even though she didn’t cry, I did. I kinda felt for the woman whose life was so brutally shortened. She also confides in some very positive things about David’s paternity (which finally gives him some piece) and a horrible fact about her death. When Irene is there, Andi senses her too. She confirms the same thing about her death. But overall, all of the spirits want them out of this house, right now. After the session, Morty thinks there might be something powerful going on here. Irene and Katherine weren’t violent or negative, neither was Clarance, so he decides that a banishment will do to guide the spirits into the path of light. But before that, something needed to be taken care of that involves years old secretly buried bodies in the basement (can you see my goosebumps? I had them all the while I read this part). David thinks Carlos will help in exchange of subtle manipulation about his attack on Andi.
David had already became aware of the fact that this thing is trying to mentally manipulate him. He suspected and had to find it out for a fact in the most uncomfortable of ways when he almost ended up choking Andi. This scares the shit out of her. David can’t remember a thing of what he was doing. He leaves being all guilty and flustered. Andi knows he’s not to blame but she decides they should keep apart for awhile. Morty agrees with Andi’s idea when they return for a visit, until the house is cleaned up. David panics. He doesn’t want to let go of Andi but he feels that she’s distancing herself already. It was painful to read because David has already fallen for her. It hurts him. Andi did too, and even though I knew her actions were justified, I still felt for the poor baby. But there was no denying that this thing, that probably controlled the male descendants of the house, was trying to control him the same way.
The time of the banishment appears. I felt for these poor people, who were haunting the place because no one knew what really happened to them. And then, at the banishment, things take a drastic turn. The real evil rears up its head and for the first time, shows them his strength and to Andi, his face once again. It was a scene full of horror and actions because the demon attacks them right after the banishment, to laugh at them at their puny attempts to clean the house. That scene was something! Morty is wounded, Andi is beyond horrified by the vision of the dark pits of that demon’s eyes. By now, after reading some of the personal documents and further research, they all start understanding something; the designer of the house, who was insanely obsessive about it, never actually left this place. Not even when he died. He would to ANYTHING to keep it in the Girard family, which is what he’s been doing for these 100 or so years. Morty decides that this would need some serious a$$ whipping aka something akin to an exorcism. Morty was so much fun to read! Even though, he gave the appearance of taking things lightly, he always knew his way around the supernatural. I wish we knew more of his background.
But the question still remained, would the exorcism be enough to drive this demon away?
I was a bit bummed by the ultimate solution though. David and Andi come up with another idea to get rid of the house entirely. But that didn’t matter ultimately. I enjoyed most of the book and read it with bated breath, sometimes spooked, sometimes all hot and bothered from David and Andi’s sexy times. *heehee* It was everything I could’ve hoped for a Halloween read. 4.5 stars and definitely recommended. I’ll keep an eye on BD’s later releases. I hope she publishes more books like this one (ghost/haunting-themed). I, for one, would absolutely love to read a few more from her.
This Review Copy was provided to me by Carina Press via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.