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Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Haunted Lily' by Sidney FOX

From the BLURB:

Reality is shattered for British filmmaker, Darby McGregor, when his beautiful fiancée is tragically killed on their wedding day. After a dark time of mourning, Darby is tormented by a horrifying phantom bride in the eighteenth-century church he recently renovated. Is this the spirit of his beloved fiancée or something more sinister? Darby's sanity is in question, when fate steps in.

Her name is Lily, an enchanted young woman, who vibrantly shines through the darkness like a beacon of light for lost souls. Lily has been surrounded by the dearly departed since she was born, and has the gift/curse to penetrate the shadowy veil separating the living and the dead. Feeling an immediate connection, Lily agrees to be the subject of Darby's new documentary. However, Darby and his unsuspecting crew are not prepared for this chilling journey through the "spirit world".

As they spend time together, their bond grows. And when Darby learns of Lily's tragic upbringing and dealings with dangerous apparitions; he wants nothing more than to protect her. But it turns out he is the one in need of protection, when Lily's horrifying childhood nemesis returns from the afterworld to claim her.

‘Haunted Lily’ is the first book in Sidney Fox’s ‘The Ghost Memories’ series.

Darby McGregor’s life is changed forever when his fiancée dies on their wedding day. Deep in grief and seeking some kind of solace, he investigates an American woman who claims she can see ghosts. Darby even watches video evidence of Lily Dufrene conversing with ‘spirits’. . . and when Darby is haunted by a spirit of his own, in the form of a rotting corpse bride, he doesn’t hesitate to seek Lily out.

What Darby finds in Lily Dufrene is a charming and vivacious young woman who has overcome a traumatic childhood. As Darby follows Lily across the United States, filming her encounters with spirits for a possible documentary, the two fall reluctantly in love. . .

I kept seeing ‘Haunted Lily’ on book blogs. The haunting skeleton/mannequin cover was cropping up everywhere and I was intrigued.

A few things about this book didn’t work for me, and unfortunately they’re rather big things –mainly the ‘romance’ and the finale. But if there’s one thing Fox did well. . . it was to scare the beegezus out of me!

Lily, Darby and a cast of secondary characters journey on a giant bus investigating various supernatural happenings around the United States. The crew find ghosties in the strangest (and scariest) of places. Like at the Crystal Beach amusement park, where the ghost of an ex employee haunts the rollercoaster, reaping havoc on the ride. Or in the swimming pool of an old New York building. Or even in an abandoned high school;
Lily was peacefully slumbering in her warm cocoon when she felt something wet drop on her face. Her cheek twitched, as another drop fell, and her eyes fluttered open. She looked up through her sleepy eyes, trying to focus on the luminous form above her.
It was a lucid girl, naked and dripping wet, looking down upon her in the darkness. Lily could feel her heart begin to pound in her chest. The girl was semi-transparent and took on a greenish glow from the lighted exit sign that shone through her body. The girl looked dreadfully sad. Her large dark eyes never blinked as she gazed curiously down upon Lily.
‘Haunted Lily’ is one of the scariest books I have read. It’s not that there’s blood and gore. . . it’s just that Sidney Fox’s visuals are so precise and eerie – she draws on the simplicities of fright reminiscent of ‘The Sixth Sense’ or ‘The Others’. She doesn’t write for the big, obvious frights. The scares are there in the details – like the smell of sulphur and rotting flowers that permeates the air when a spirit is near. It also helped that I read this book at night, allowing my imagination to run rampant.

This is a scary book. . . and as if regular ghosts aren’t scary enough, Lily has been haunted by one scary ghost in particular. A Bulgarian clown (and paedophile) called Varton Muntz has been following Lily around since she was a child. . .

Clowns are my weakness. They scare the crap out of me! Ever since I watched ‘Poltergeist’ and that little bugger crawled out from under the bed, clowns have been a great fear of mine (I’m kind of like Phil Dunphy that way). But Varton Muntz is ten times scarier than your regular freakazoid clown. He’s burnt and scarred for one. . . and his entire being is reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy’s clown alter-ego, Pogo. Cripes – Varton Muntz is hands-down the best bad guy I have ever read!

I loved the scary parts of ‘Haunted Lily’. What didn’t work for me so much was the ‘romance’ between Darby and Lily. . .

I, personally, didn’t read enough foundation for the romance. I expected the romance to be central to the plot (from the blurb’s promise of “their bond grows”) and I kept waiting to read flirtation and chemistry. . . but it just wasn’t there for me. And so when Lily and Darby decided to be together, I thought it was very out of left-field and not very believable. I found their ‘relationship discussion’ to be very mechanical and convenient;
“. . . It would take a very strong person to be with me; I really think in you I have found a soul mate. I’m so in love with you. I can’t believe it. . . once again, I dove into the deep end without testing the water.”
I didn’t think Darby and Lily had any heat. Maybe it was a case of Fox spending so much time on the (fantastic) scary parts that the romance fell by the wayside. But I think the romance really needed to be more of a focus if it was going to be included at all. . . because not only is Lily fighting her attraction because her ‘baggage’ includes dangerous ghosts, but Darby’s fiancée (who he loved so much!) died recently. That’s two forces really pushing those two apart. . . and because of all the reasons for them *not* to be together, I needed more convincing with the romance. I needed smut (yes, my head remains firmly in the gutter) and more relationship discussion. I mean, Lily never once questions Darby about whether or not he’s ready to move on from his fiancée. Wouldn’t that be a point of discussion with someone you want to get romantic with? ‘Am I a rebound from your dead fiancée?’

The other part of the book that didn’t work for me was the ending. Obviously I can’t give anything away. . . I’ll only to say that a lot of action is confusingly jam-packed into the last two chapters. I was left reeling, and somewhat deflated by the sombre ending.

I did like ‘Haunted Lily’, I didn’t love it, but I was scared by it and liked it. The horror is top-notch and if you like being constantly surprised and scared stupid – then this is the book for you! I would have liked more romance and a cleaner (somewhat happier?) ending. . . but otherwise this was a good thrill-ride.



  1. Great review hon! his sounds like an Interesting story, but I dont know if I'd be into it... I actually dont like the cover at all, so much that it turns me off!

  2. OMG I would have died if I picked this up thinking it was a paranormal romance-type book and got the bejeesus scared out of me. I can't watch scary movies at all. Steven King's "It" was probably the last scary book I read - I just can't do it anymore :)


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