Ghostland – Duncan Ralston

Ghosts are real.

If you want to visualise the gorefest that is Ghostland, imagine the ectoplasmic mayhem that would have ensued if Jurassic Park had been populated by ghosts instead of dinosaurs. Featuring such haunts as a prison, an asylum and Garrote House, home of “the Most Terrifying Man in the World”, and 300 ghosts (at the beginning of the book) ranging from former prisoners to an evil sex nun, the promised fun of this amusement park quickly descends into a “concerto of chaos”.

Putting their knowledge of “All Things Horror” and gaming skills to the ultimate test are Lilian Roth and Ben Laramie. Ben has serious physical health problems and Lilian’s thanatophobia, a result of a trauma she experienced four years ago, add to the potential dangers these former best friends will be facing.

Joining them on what may be their final day as corporeal beings is Dr Allison Wexler, Lilian’s therapist. Having your therapist along for the ride is not awkward at all …

Exposure therapy has never been so intensive!

“What’s the worst that could happen, right?”

You do realise you’re one of the main characters in a horror novel, don’t you Lilian?

Don’t bother trying to form any emotional connections with any of the breathers who decide that opening day is a good time to visit this amusement park. Chances are they’re going to be the recently deceased before they get their $40 ticket price worth of scares.

Usually when I read horror stories I tally a body count but there’s just no point here. Even if I counted all of the bodies I tripped over along the way, I would have missed dozens of them. Not as many people died in front of me as I had hoped but I did get to witness the results of a fair amount of the carnage as Lilian and Ben attempt to navigate their way out of Ghostland, hopefully with heartbeats.

This is what happens when you mess around with things you can’t possibly comprehend.

I haven’t had this much fun anticipating footnotes since Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. While the “Know Your Ghosts” guide occasionally only repeated the text in the chapters and didn’t seem necessary, I enjoyed the majority that provided additional information. I expect they’re going to be useful in the sequel. Incidentally, if Ghostland is ever made into a movie, I’ll be there for the ride.

At times it felt like there were an over abundance of similes and I simply shook my head when our lambs to the slaughter took the time to locate toilets on the map. If all hell was breaking loose and I had to use the bathroom I doubt I’d risk my life further by detouring to find a public toilet. A few question marks appeared over my head as I was reading, including when Dr Wexler contradicted herself about how long Lilian had been in therapy for, but they are essentially quibbles in what was a fun bloodbath.

My disappointment came when, after such a build up, I blinked and missed most of the final battle. Maybe I’ll get to enjoy the hopefully bone snapping, blood spurting, organ squishing climax in a flashback scene during the sequel but right now it feels like a crucial chapter was accidentally deleted.

Favourite phrase:

“You cain’t be alive. You ain’t got a head.”

You can download a free copy of the short story prequel, The Moving House, when you subscribe to the author’s website. There’s also a Ghostland website to explore.

Please keep your head and hands inside the ride and enjoy your time at Ghostland, the most terrifying theme park on earth!

description

Content warnings include mention of death by suicide and paedophilia.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Shadow Work Publishing and Victory Editing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

People are dying to get in. The ghosts will kill to get out. 

Be first in line for the most haunted theme park in the park in the world – Ghostland! Discover and explore hundreds of haunted buildings and cursed objects! Witness spectral beings of all kinds with our patented Augmented Reality glasses! Experience all the terror and thrills the afterlife has to offer, safely protected by our Recurrence Field technology! Visit Ghostland today – it’s the hauntedest place on earth!

After a near-death experience caused by the park’s star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won’t let her live life to the fullest. She’s come at the insistence of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech’s psychological effect on the user. 

But when a computer virus sets the ghosts free and the park goes into lockdown, the trio find themselves trapped in an endless nightmare. 

With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape … or become Ghostland’s newest exhibits. 

Featuring an interactive “Know Your Ghosts” guide and much more, Ghostland is over 400 pages of thrills and terror!

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