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January 8, 2015

Loved It: Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn + 7 Things

Series: TBA
Format: eGalley
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical | Mystery | Paranormal
Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.

The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy--the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes...a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.

Now a crime reporter for one of the city's largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city's most highly regarded--and by all accounts, legitimate--medium, who dies mid-seance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.

Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, "Things Half in Shadow" is a riveting thriller where "Medium" and "The Sixth Sense" meet "The Alienist"--and where nothing is quite as it seems.


When I picked up THINGS HALF IN SHADOW by Alan Finn, I expected it to be dark, sinister, totally creeptastic, something I wouldn't dare read before bed lest I risk getting nightmares. I'm mortally afraid of ghosts and reading/watching ghostly novels is a no-no for me unless I plan on staying up all night. Things might not have been as dark as I wanted it to be still I got what I came for and then some.

The case that was Edward Clark and Lucy Collins started as a battle of wit and cunning and though theirs isn't a classic romance or even an HEA story, the tension between them is palpable and one can't help but root for these two to become a couple. You can tell from all their bickering and their chemistry that they're very much attracted to each other however there are some complications that must be entangled first before they can even entertain the notion. Now despite the impending romance involving Edward and Lucy, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW is romantically light as it focused more on the other aspects of the story. Now I don't know if there's a book 2 (I hope there is!) and if in case it's in the works, I'm sure things between our main characters are going to develop and heat up.

As individual characters, Lucy is very feisty, witty, and such a go-getter, a truly likable character. How she landed as a medium was quite a tale, it was tragic and her gumption was what saved her so to speak. I'm just not sure how long she can keep running from her past though considering the can of worms that was opened here. As for Edward, I don't know what to make of him. He's not necessarily my type of hero, he blushes and faints, his methods in terms getting a story wasn't impressive to me, he's not swoony yet I found him rather entertaining. His backstory is heartbreaking, see his dad is in prison for murdering his mother and naturally Edward condemned his old man but there's some new evidence that came to light that may or may not exonerate his father. After 15 years of not speaking, Edward finally came to see his dad and my heart just clenched in sadness because of how desperate his father is and how Edward is so bitter and angry about the whole affair. Yet another reason why a sequel is needed, I sure would like to see father and son reunite and get closure.

My favorite thing about this novel is how atmospheric it was. You can tell that AFinn did his research in painting an authentic backdrop for THINGS HALF IN SHADOW not just in terms of scenery but in the feeling it wanted to convey. I felt like there's a gray cloud covering Philadelphia from the grief that's stemmed from the war and the devastation it caused. Everyone was affected and everyone's looking for some sort of comfort from their loss even if it means embracing unconventional ways such as seances and the like, anything to get them reconnected and reunited with their dearly departed. The plot down to the personal stories of each character were well told, carefully fleshed, and empathetic. It was easy to understand why these people went to such great lengths, pay these mediums ridiculous amounts of money, they would do and trade anything just to have another moment with their loved one. The mystery was cleverly planned covered in layers of spirtualism and murder, it was quite the guesswork trying to figure out who killed Mrs. Pastor. The revelation was quite the production, it sure gave me goosebumps and it was done so perfectly and very reflective of the plot.

If you're a fan of Jenn Bennett's Roaring Twenties, or Jamie Lee Moyer's Delia Martin, our you just enjoy ghost stories, I highly recommend you read THINGS HALF IN SHADOW.






7 Things You Should Know About 
THINGS HALF IN SHADOW

  1. It takes place in Philadelphia in 1869. I picked that as the setting and time period because Philadelphia is chock full of history and seemed the best place to set a tale about mediums and murder.

  2. The book contains several séances. Some are real. Some are fake. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two.

  3. A few of the tricks and illusions used during the fake séances in the book really were employed by sham mediums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Others, however, were made up to suit my story. I’ll never tell which is which.

  4. Although there are spirits in the book, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW isn’t really about ghosts. At least, not quite.

  5. P.T. Barnum, the famous showman, is a minor character in the book. He throws a masked ball, which was perhaps the single most fun thing I’ve ever written.

  6. Many of the Philadelphia locations found in the book still exist today. The most interesting is Eastern State Penitentiary, which is said to be haunted.

  7. The title THINGS HALF IN SHADOW came from a song in the movie “Mary Poppins.” I was watching the movie during the early stages of writing, when I was struggling to come up with a title. Then Bert the chimney sweep sang, “There’s things half in shadow, and halfway in light.” Bingo! I knew right then and there that it would be my title.




Alan Finn is the pen name of an acclaimed author of mysteries. He has worked as a writer, editor, journalist and ghost writer. He resides in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is hard at work on his next novel.

Stalk Alan




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26 comments:

  1. As it just so happens, I AM a fan of Jenn Bennett's Roaring Twenties series, and I do enjoy ghost stories just so long as there's no romantic angle because that never ends well IMO. This sounds promising, thanks for the review and guest post. Happy Friday!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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    1. You're welcome... I made the comparison because this is as good as that series in terms of authenticity and supernatural element. I hope you enjoy it.

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  2. This sounds fantastic! I think I would really like the feisty Lucy. :)

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    1. Oh lord she's a troublemaker! I love her!

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  3. Great review Braine, as always! You alway make me want to try the books you review, even if they're not my usual (genres) listens/reads. I like what you said about the author really conveying the setting and the feeling of the novel, that's alway a good sing.

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    1. When I read historical, it's a MUST that I get transported to that era otherwise it sort of defeats the purposes.

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  4. Oh this sounds wonderful. I love this era and I love a good creepy ghostly mystery. Totally want to read this. Hmm to asnwer the question favorite ghost story.... I think it would have to be Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Happy weekend.

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    1. Oooh Stephen King, I'm sure that's a winner!

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  5. Ohh I like bickering. Bickering ends up in the bedroom. Lol. This sounds fantastic!

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  6. I wanted to review this but was booked. I am so excited you did because I want it! I love everything from the setting to the writing. Wonderful review Braine!

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    1. Thank you, Kimberly, I hope you manage to squeeze it in later.

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  7. Oh my goodness. This sounds incredible, Braine. I love historical fiction and that this has a supernatural bent is even better! The mystery element has me intrigued. But the atmosphere as you've described it...that's some good stuff.

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    1. It's one of the better historical ghost stories I've read.

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  8. Sounds right up my alley! Didn't know about it. Thanks for sharing, Braine!

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    1. Happy to introduce you to it then :)

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  9. I have yet to read JBennetts Roaring Twenties, but it's been awhile since I've read a ghost book, and this one sounds good!

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    1. Maybe this qualifies in Anna's historical reading challenge? Sort of?

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  10. Now you make me want to discover the atmosphere of the book. I love stories like that and they're always really intriguing. I didn't know about it so thank you for your review! I really should try!

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    1. Read an excerpt, maybe that will do you some good, stoke your curiosity :)

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  11. I can't read or watch scary stuff late at night either, lol. I typically love couples who argue; I think it's the whole Lizzy/Darcy thing. Will definitely have to check this one out!

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    1. Oh those two can bicker, Lizzy and Darcy are masters of it! verbal foreplay at its best!

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  12. It has been a while since a read about ghosts

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  13. Man I love Mary Poppin's! Love how the title came from that! Great review Braine!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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