Psychic Surveys: Book One - The Haunting of Highdown Hall
"Good morning, Psychic Surveys. How can I help?"
The latest in a long line of psychically-gifted females, Ruby Davis can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light - or 'home' as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it's a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born.
Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have been kept busy of late. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading - it's not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star Cynthia Hart is still in residence, despite having died in 1958.
Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia. She insists the devil is blocking her path to the light long after Psychic Surveys have 'disproved' it. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia's world and the darkness that now inhabits it.
For the first time in her career, Ruby's deepest beliefs are challenged. Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?
Because she knows that I love a good ghost story, this is the book that Barb found for my “Halloween Read”.
The Haunting of Highdown Hall is set in Sussex, in England. The author is from Brighton, and I can tell that she is a native thanks to some of the slang that’s used in here. I love it! What is it with English people and curry?
Ruby calls her business “Psychic Surveys”, which sounds a lot better to her ears than Ghostbusters. She has a group of sensitives, and they work together and apart to guide earthbound souls into the next plane of existence. They are very much the “go into the light” types, not the EVP recording, Flir camera using ghost hunters. Ruby herself does not believe in hell, and says that she has never seen any evidence of such in her encounters. As far as she is concerned, on the other side there is nothing but love. She was raised in this vein by her grandmother. All of the women in Ruby’s family have this gift, and Ruby is determined to use it to help stranded souls.
The group gets a call from Highdown Hall, where the new owner has just taken over and cannot get into the master bedroom due to the vengeful ghost of the former owner, Cynthia Hart. Cynthia was a famous film star in the 50’s-- a diva in her day, and it seems, still a diva in this one. She died suddenly on her birthday in 1958, and as far as she’s concerned that house is still hers. When Ruby and her crew investigate they find something they never would have counted on - Cynthia is convinced that the devil is waiting just out of sight to claim her soul. She made a deal back in her pre fame days for fortune and glory, and when it all came true she knew that her soul was doomed. Ruby is baffled, and dives into investigating the circumstances of Cynthia’s death to determine if she truly did make a deadly deal. The plot has several surprising twists, and leaves Ruby questioning everything she was ever taught about the afterlife, and just how dangerous the powers that she is messing with can be.
Along for this ride is a web designer named Cash. (He’s named after Johnny Cash, I really loved that!) He met Ruby in a pub, and as they talked he convinced her to let him go with her on an assignment, mostly because he’s curious. He goes with her to Highdown Hall and to other “surveys” throughout the book. He got more than her ever bargained on with Cynthia’s craziness. I really liked Cash and Ruby’s relationship - it wasn’t overly pushy on the romance, just a good nice slow burn til the end.
I thought this was a great little ghost story and I already want the second one. It was a great mystery that kept me glued to the pages.
Till next time
About this author:
Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name - Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it's Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni - although she does indeed know a Shanni - just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing - so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter.
Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. Writing both contemporary fiction and paranormal mystery, she is the author of The Runaway Year and The Runaway Ex, both published by Omnific Publishing.
Her paranormal work is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and includes Jessamine and the bestselling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me. All are available on Amazon.
The Return - published June 2015 - is the third in the Runaway series but can also be read as a standalone.
Coming soon: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story.