Poltergeists must be the latest trend. Never having come across a book about them before, I’ve recently read two on the subject. I discussed the first, “The Last Days of Jack Sparks”, under the heading “Dr. Who Meets Edgar Allen Poe.” Jack Sparks wasn’t at all a nice person, but he was a completely convincing character.
The same can’t be said for Harper Blaine, the protagonist of Poltergeist, published by Kat Richardson in 2007. Charlaine Harris is quoted on the cover of Poltergeist saying, “A great heroine.” I beg to differ. Charlaine Harris’ own heroine is consistent and likable, a cute southern belle with second sight and an affinity for strange creatures. Harper Blaine, Kat Richardson’s heroine, isn’t nearly as well done. Although the story is told in the first person by Blaine and is all about her, I was left with no impression of her personality, if any. She has a boyfriend who is conveniently far away, serving to check the boxes of “normal” and “attractive to men” without distracting from the plot. She’s doesn’t like children much but is obviously fond of her pet ferret, who is as destructive as the most rambunctious child and presumably won’t grow out of it.
The two books agree that poltergeists are external entities formed by people’s thoughts, conjured up to do harm. I know people have at times tried to prove the existence of telekinesis, as manifested by the movement of small objects without any apparent human agency. I don’t think anyone has seriously claimed that a poltergeist has committed murder, but it makes for a decent plot. What bothers me is the space Richardson devotes to explaining the “science” of her phenomena. I might (or might not) make an effort to understand the actual scientific basis of something real. I could excuse pseudo-science, as an honest but misguided effort to explain something. Plowing through an imaginary scientific basis for imaginary phenomena is nothing but annoying.
And by the way, why imagine the construction of a poltergeist intermediary between a murderous thought and it’s victim? I’m firmly convinced that thoughts can kill directly. See The Wish to Kill, the first Alex Kértesz mystery http://amazon.com/author/janethannah