I knew as soon as I saw a blurb for Jory Strong’s Ghostland that it would be an awesome read and I was sooo not let down.
Taken from her home and family, shamaness Aisling McConaughey has no choice except to enter the “ghostlands” in order to learn the fate of a wealthy man’s mistress. But there is always a price to pay for the use of her power. To save the woman’s life she must summon the Djinn prince Zurael en Caym—and yield to his savage, sensual rage.
Zurael fears nothing except being called and bound to a human’s will. He intends to kill Aisling after she’s served as bait to find an enemy in possession of an ancient tablet. But the more he tastes of her innocent spirit, the more he’ll use his fiery touch and seductive whispers to keep her hungry for his mercy—even as they weave an erotic spell that he cannot escape…
Powerful forces threaten both their worlds, leaving Aisling and Zurael with an unbearable choice. Follow their hearts…or stay true to their honor and risk losing an eternity of pleasure.
Ghostland was fabulous. Not only were we given a whole new take on the demon angle, but we’re also given a great setting for some fabulous storytelling. I started Ghostland last night and it has held me captivated all day (thankfully Ian has been in a mood to play on his own and has let me read). The world that Strong has built is not only complex and a little futuristic, but completely realistic. What would happen if war and plague completely devastated the human population and the supernaturals made their presence known? Nothing in Strong’s world building left me confused or wondering why (as some does) nor does she add any futuristic technology that needs to be understood. She built a rich world out of rubble that didn’t detract from the story, but completely added to it.
Not only was her world spectacular, but her characters are ones you can instantly connect with. We’re not given a kickass heroine who knows she can try and save the world, but one who does so out of necessity and does what she can. Aisling grew up as an orphan, in an area that was extremely rural and unsympathetic to supernaturals, without any formal training as a shamaness. When she’s taken to the big city because of her gift, she has all the doubts that one in her position should have. Just because she was raised on a farm, it doesn’t mean she is stupid. She recognizes when she should doubt a person’s motives, yet she also makes mistakes. Aisling is a flawed character, just like any human, and that gives every reader a chance to relate to her.
I’m not sure if this is marketed as a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy, but regardless, Strong makes a fantastic distinction between lust and love. The chemistry between Zurael and Aisling starts out through lust and they both realize it. They both know that after doing what needs to be done, lust won’t change anything. Because of this, the evolution of their relationship is even more spectacular. Yes (minor spoiler), we see two main characters jumping each other rather quickly, but they don’t fall in love right away (was that really a spoiler?). You can say that other books have done this too, but I don’t think I’ve come across one that has done it as well as Strong has in Ghostland.
Overall, Ghostland was fantastic and I’m really hoping that the hints of a sequel (and that this is the beginning of a new series) are going to be true. The world Strong has created is so easy to escape into, with characters that capture your imagination, that it would be criminal to end it here. Ghostland is one novel I highly recommend that you don’t waste your time waiting for at the library. Go hit your bookstores now.
Updated to add: Sweeet! There’s going to be another one. yes!
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