I’ve always loved Doranna Durgin’s work, although I miss her earlier fantasy novels. Her latest paranormal romance, The Reckoners, hearkens back a bit to those even as it’s squarely targeted at the paranormal romance crowd.
The book starts off a bit shakily, introducing us to Lisa “Garrie” McGarrity and her team of ghost hunters, who call themselves “reckoners”. We learn that Garrie was befriended in her childhood by an actual ghost, Rhonda Rose, whose wisdom is frequently quoted by the team, and we get a general idea of the abilities and personalities of the various team members. What we don’t get, though, is a scenario like unto the blurb that appears on the back of the novel, which would lead you to believe that Garrie and her team are trying to handle a huge upsurge of ghost activity when our hero Trevarr shows up. The scenario that actually happens is that the Reckoners have been quite hard pressed for serious cases as of late–and mysterious Trevarr, with a minimum of explanation and a jaw-dropping amount of cash, shows up and offers to pay their way if they’ll come with him to Winchester House to deal with strange goings-on with the ghosts trapped there.
I found the order of scenes explaining how Quinn (Garrie’s former boyfriend) opts to stay behind a little jerky, and I kept wanting to smack Trevarr for his stubborn insistence on not telling Garrie and the others any serious detail about what they were walking into. Likewise, I periodically wanted to smack Garrie too for only putting forth token insistence on these details until later on in the plot. Some of the worldbuilding I found a bit sparse, too–such as why Garrie and her team call themselves “reckoners” to begin with. Another review I saw said that this felt kind of like it should have been a third or fourth book in a series establishing this characters, and I have to say I concur; I almost feel like I was introduced to these characters too swiftly, without enough to really orient me with them.
But. All that aside, I did find the book fun. Once you get past the roadblock of Trevarr flat refusing to give up details until they’re pried forcibly out of him, the pace picks up considerably. Winchester House, the site Garrie’s team goes to investigate, does actually exist; scenes set there make good use of random tourists as well as the site staff. Glimmers of what I miss about Durgin’s fantasy days come to the fore with the big reveals about what’s going on in Winchester House as well as with Trevarr himself. The last stretch of the novel felt much more like a fantasy novel to me than a paranormal romance, and the few details given about Trevarr’s background are the best worldbuilding in the book, piqueing my interest about what might be written about him and Garrie later.
All in all, not my favorite Durgin, but pleasant nonetheless. Three stars.