The Rooks #1: Wish You Weren’t Here – Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

‘A lot of really bad things have happened in Coldbay. A lot-lot.’

Brenda, a clairvoyant, is married to Richard, who has his own stuff going on. They have two adult children. Darryl, also clairvoyant, loves his husband, Janusz. Charity, the human Ghostbuster trap, loves carbs. Janusz, who was once upon a time a client of the Rooks, loves spreadsheets as much as he loves his husband. Together the Rooks run a ghost hunting business.

Clients contacted the Rooks because their kids were talking backwards or their cutlery kept flying at them or their walls were bleeding and they really quite wanted it to stop.

The Rooks’ newest client is Coldbay Island’s local priest. They might have to do a little overtime on this job and that’s going to seriously mess with Janusz’s spreadsheet.

‘Here we are, and it’s positively crawling with ghosts.’

I enjoyed this book and will be continuing the series. However, fair or not, I couldn’t help comparing it to the Darkwood series, which I absolutely adored.

I loved all of the characters in Darkwood but I mostly just loved Janusz in this book. There was some humour in this book but, unlike Darkwood, my face doesn’t hurt from smiling almost the entire time I was reading. There was no Bin Night equivalent on Coldbay Island.

I would happily pass the Darkwood series along to a child. I wouldn’t do that with this book, if only because of the swearing.

I originally hoped for a sneaky Darkwood crossover, maybe with Trevor or perhaps a character more appropriate for this story like Patience. Until I saw Charity in action. Then I was glad Patience stayed in Myrsina.

Maybe it’s because I’m almost two months into lockdown here in Australia but a lot of what I’m reading at the moment reminds me of other things I’ve read or movies I’ve seen.

Something that happened to Janusz reminded me of one of my favourite scenes in Roald Dahl’s The Witches. The Rooks’ website’s “No spectral problem too big or too small” brought to mind Venkman’s “No job is too big, no fee is too big”. When the Rooks faced up against this book’s Big Bad, I couldn’t help thinking they could potentially solve all of their problems if they sourced some of the pink slime from Ghostbusters II, smeared it all over whatever the English equivalent of the Statue of Liberty is and sing happy songs to it.

There’s plenty of action in this book. The Rook family quickly became real to me and I’m keen to find out how individual family members are going to deal with the information that came to light while they were at Coldbay Island. This story doesn’t officially end on a cliffhanger but there are plenty of threads to tie together during the rest of the series.

Content warnings include alcoholism and mention of death by suicide, immolation and miscarriage.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Farrago, an imprint of Duckworth Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The Rook family run a little business: ghost hunting. And things has picked up recently. Something’s wrong. It’s been getting noticeably worse since, ooh, 2016?

Bad spirits are abroad, and right now they’re particularly around Coldbay Island, which isn’t even abroad, it’s only 20 miles from Skegness. The Rooks’ ‘quick call out’ to the island picks loose a thread that begins to unravel the whole place, and the world beyond.

Is this the apocalypse? This might be the apocalypse. Who knew it would kick off in an off-season seaside resort off the Lincolnshire coast? I’ll tell you who knew – Linda. She’s been feeling increasingly uneasy about the whole of the East Midlands since the 90s.

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