A supernatural thriller about a lady's visions of a soul from purgatory who appears in an empty house in the countryside and won't go away. Fun stuff, not gonna lie.
Basically, a woman in her early thirties, Jeannie Lyons, is unceremoniously kicked out of her home by her older brother and moves to a home in the country. Jeannie is lonely and unsatisfied with life, and she has an inability to relinquish the memory of her dead parents, whom she loved very deeply. Her brother, Erwin, is concerned that she will end up living the rest of her life as a single cat lady, possibly with psychiatric problems and a dash of schizophrenia. Jeannie's niece once saw her dearly beloved aunt talking to the vision of Jeannie's dead mom, and the frightened little girl told this to Erwin's wife and himself. Erwin, with a quickly growing family, is determined that a new house and maybe a decent guy will snap Jeannie out of her tendency to live in the past and maybe give her something to look forward to in the future. Except the new house he finds for her is anything but helpful in the endeavor for mental stability and happiness, as Jeannie begins to hear noises every night. It is not long before a dark figure appears at six o'clock in the morning and six o'clock at night, frightening Jeannie nearly to death and causing her to question her sanity. Who is this ghastly specter, what does he want, and what should Jeannie do?
I was irritated for the first two or three chapters of this book. I have read all of the books in the wonderful West Brothers series by Theresa Linden, and I really liked them (even loved some of them), so my expectations were high.
But by the time I had been introduced to Jeannie, her family, and her troubles, I was growing annoyed at the fact that I hated everyone in her family and found her tendency to frequent emotional breakdowns exasperating, to say the least. Her niece Danita is scared of every darn thing and her nephew Gabriel finds delight in taking advantage of this fact, tormenting his sister whenever he can. Neither is disciplined, and their mother and the wife of Erwin, Trella, has the audacity to be angry at Jeannie when Jeannie is more concerned with the well-being of her heirloom lamp than she is with her niece's (or nephew's) arm when the little monster runs and break the poor old lamp. Gosh darn it woman, I wouldn't care about the little brat either! Needs a slappity slap slap.
Now that my frustration and harsh heart and abusive tendencies have been brought to the fore front, I'll bring you the good news about this book. The annoying family soon goes away and the book takes a exciting and terrifying turn. The noises start, as well as Jeannie's bed being shaken and waking her from sleep. A dark shape appear in the corner of Jeannie's bedroom, a shape that blends into the drapes almost completely. Jeannie's first reaction to to this is not to politely ask the good ghost what his business is in her house, but to run out of the room at light speed. I cannot blame her. I went to the bathroom after I read a chapter or six of this book and I must say, I saw movement in every crease of the shower curtain, in every roll of the towel. I would've been too scared too sleep, but I was so tired I fell asleep before I could convince myself to be afraid of the dark. Anyway, I will try to restore structure to this review.
Because Erwin fears his little sister will lead an ever lonely and miserable existence if she does not try to get a grip on her life soon, he makes it his duty to set her up with a gentleman named Oliver. Oliver was one of my favorite aspects of the story, as it doesn't seem when you first meet him that he will be an important character. More likely just a comic sideshow. He's not bad looking, slightly awkward, has a beard and loves photography. He carries his camera with him everywhere and he meets Jeannie when Erwin invites him over to the family house for dinner. Jeannie immediately discounts him as a love interest possibility, and so we do too. Very well played on the author's part, I must say. He helps Erwin with Jeannie's move to the new house in the country, and Jeannie is slightly concerned that he has feelings for her. She briefly attempts to think of a gentle yet firm way to tell him he's okay, but not her type. Yet when the ghostly occurrences begin, Oliver is the only one to believe Jeannie. Her sister refers her to a counselor, her brother says she has an overactive imagination and needs to get a grip, and even her priest suggests professional help is needed and has a hard time believing her fantastic tales. Oliver knows Jeannie is not crazy. And he also knows that there is life after this life, and although generally people from the next life don't come visiting this one, these things do happen.
The next time the ghost comes to visit, Jeannie forces herself to observe him. He does not seem evil, but his pathetic, miserable and otherworldly presence is too much too bear, and so Jeannie once again fails to discover why this specter continues to visit her and banishes him from her sight.
As time goes on and the visits continue, Jeannie, with the help of ever helpful and protective Oliver, begins to unveil a startling story and starts to realize that when she prays for the souls of the dead, she doesn't understand what is happening. She doesn't understand that though she goes to church every week and fancies she loves God, her own soul is a mess of bitterness and a lack of forgiveness. She hold onto the past and neglects the present and the only way to banish the absolutely terrifying ghost is to become a real Christian, with all the trimmings.
Tortured Soul is incredibly enjoyable and it makes me happy that someone is writing about purgatory, a strangely forgotten place and teaching of the Church, though it should not be. I think it is not mere coincidence that no one thinks about the poor souls locked in purgatory, pleading for our prayers, because they cannot pray themselves. The Devil doesn't like it when we sincerely think about the not-yet-lost souls and purposefully ask God to deliver them. He doesn't like it at all. I don't think the book has achieved the status of Great Modern Art (like that of The Golden Princess and the Moon), but it is an inspiration to all Christians and an exciting supernatural thriller that homeschoolers like me can read without having too many nightmares for weeks to come. I enjoyed it immensely, and I think you will too.
Until next time, God bless you and make sure you don't move into creepy big houses in the middle of the woods by yourself. There are always ghosts there, without fail. Better safe than sorry, I always (never) say.