The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack

Subtitle

Gulf Coast Paranormal

Gulf Coast Paranormal

The Ghosts of Kali Oka Road by M. L. Bullock

This is not a perfect book, but man did I have fun reading it. The story opens with two high school kids parking on Kali Oka Road to make out. Instead, they end up having a fight. The girl jumps out of the car and the boy threatens to leave her. Then something terrible and seemingly supernatural happens and the girl’s wrist is suddenly dropped near her boyfriend followed quickly by her severed head. Panicking, as anyone would, the boy actually does the right thing—he races to the police with his story and ends up in psychiatric observation. No sign of the girl (or her severed body parts) are discovered and the young man spends the rest of his life under suspicion of having murdered her. But we know he didn’t—and he wants answers to what happened and the supernatural things he saw the night she died.


Enter Cassidy, a wealthy young woman who is haunted by the disappearance of her sister, and who is occasionally driven to paint her visions. This time when she paints a mansion in her dreams, she starts to experience what happened to a woman nearly two centuries ago. Her vision drives her to seek out a semi-professional group of ghost hunters calling themselves Gulf Coast Paranormal who are actually already looking into the mansion—which was on the road where the young girl was murdered in the first chapter.


Everyone in this story, the high school sweethearts, Cassidy and her ex-boyfriend, the two co-owners of Gulf Coast Paranormal, and most importantly, the ghosts on Kali Oka Road are having major relationship problems. I predicted this would be the key to solving the supernatural mystery but you’ll have to read the book to find out if I was right. What we definitely get is a supernatural problem that pulled me right in and kept me happy for every page of the novel. As I said in my opening statement, the story isn’t perfect. Everything isn’t tied together with a nice little bow and that means that I didn’t learn enough about a couple elements of the mystery, but I loved what M. L. Bullock gave me. The characters were fantastic and believable and the tensions their personalities generated really boosted the story. In addition, the supernatural elements really worked for me. And there are enough threads—plot lines not tied to the primary mystery—to have me eager to dive into the next novel.


This is going to be a great series.


The Ghosts of the Crescent Theater by M. L. Bullock

The second volume of Gulf Coast Paranormal continues to capture the same magic as the first. Even as the group considers tackling a haunted theater, Cassidy begins to paint visions of a new spectral woman. Unfortunately, she paints the image into a mural in the apartment of two of her Gulf Coast Paranormal colleagues with frightening results.


The woman from the image appears to be a ghost in the Crescent Theater who is determined to have her time in the spotlight. As the mystery unfolds, M.L. Bullock once again uses Cassidy’s visions to see into the past permitting Bullock to let the reader learn what originally happened even as the paranormal investigators try to deal with the spirits that resulted from the long-ago tragedy.


Both storylines were intensely interesting, but it continues to be the interactions between the investigators that pushes this series over the top. Sarah continues to cause trouble even after she leaves the group, while the problems between Sierra and her husband spiral out to interfere with the investigations. All of this, plus the budding romance between Midas and Cassidy, combine to make the cast of characters feel very real which of course makes the reader care much more about them.


Ultimately, however, this novel rises on the strength of its ghost story, which once again lifts the tale high up above the rafters.


3 A Haunting on Bloodgood Row by M. L. Bullock

It seems to me that the ghost hunting by Gulf Coast Paranormal is getting a bit darker and more dangerous with each new volume of their story. The ghosts are getting more “physical” (for lack of a better word) and trying to uncover their activity and put them at rest is getting more risky as a result. In this story, the ghosts are able to play with the dimensions of the building the team is investigating, moving people from one locale to another—a major step up in the risk factor.


In addition, the Gulf Coast Paranormal team is getting more messed up. Perhaps their work is spilling into their relationships (or perhaps people having this many relationship problems is just normal) but the interpersonal problems are growing from book to book adding a different kind of tension to the story. People can do stupid things out of jealousy and we see some of that here. We also see major trust issues that will have a long-term impact on the series.


We also finally get some insight into Cassidy’s relationship with her uncle which somehow connects to Cassidy’s missing (and probably dead) sister. This is a long developing plot line in the series that finally advanced a few more paces.


Overall, I really enjoyed this book.


4 The Legend of the Ghost Queen by M. L. Bullock

The danger continues to grow. This time, Cassidy’s painting reveals that Joshua, one of the members of the Gulf Coast Paranormal team, is in great danger. Unfortunately, Joshua and his wife Sierra, have just split up and Joshua isn’t interested in listening to his former teammates. The ghost of an old Voodoo Queen is out for vengeance for a personal betrayal and the loss of her child and she has world altering power to help her achieve it.


Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast Paranormal team is continuing to fragment. Not only are Joshua and Sierra breaking up, but there’s a breach between Cassidy and Midas as well. All of this drama brings a lot of painful emotion with the team into the ghost hunting, which empowers the spirits to cause harm in our world.


The set up for this series continues to really work for me. I’m looking forward to the next book.