The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack


Gulf Coast Paranormal

Gulf Coast Paranormal


10 A Ghostly Ride in Gulfport by M. L. Bullock

Bullock does it again. This time the ghost has a living family member who is obviously suffering from the loss of her brother. Add to that, the ghost is powerful enough to turn on the lights in a carnival that is not connected to the electric grid. That’s some serious juice, especially in a ghost that looks pretty hostile. As if that isn’t bad enough, Cassidy’s paintings are taking a turn for the weird. I haven’t been a fan of these paintings in the last few books, but this time Bullock gives them a twist that really makes them interesting. Add to that the social lives of the Gulf Coast Paranormal team continue to be bumpy and you have the makings of another good book in this series.

9 The Creature on Crenshaw Road by M. L. Bullock

M. L. Bullock finds the magic again with the ninth book in her Gulf Coast Paranormal series and I’m trying to figure out what she did that brought the series back to full bloom for me. The first part was obvious—there is a whole new kind of threat in this book. A physical monster, referred to as a cryptid, and the fact that there is a physical beast raises the stakes tremendously in this novel and that was obviously a good thing. Also, the mystery was a good one with both a historical aspect and a modern aspect, and there was no point in which I wasn’t engaged in solving it.

However, I think what worked best for me was that the personal interactions sparked in a way that they haven’t in the past couple of books. An old friend of Midas’ has come back to rejoin the team and they obviously are good friends sparking the possibility of major jealousy problems with his girlfriend. The old friend also used to date Pete and one of the new team members is interested in her. This does not turn into a soap-opera-esq romance, but it does add some worthwhile color to the cast and made the whole book work on multiple levels.

In Series Order

1 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.

2 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.

5 A Haunting at Dixie House by M. L. Bullock

Trouble from the past appears again in this novel as Midas’ ex-best friend, who cheated on him with his girlfriend of the time, returns trying to kick his alcoholism just as the team gets involved in investigating a new haunting. A young boy disappeared on his birthday while swimming in a pool and everyone blamed his great aunt who was his caretaker. To make matters worse, a medium in the Netherlands with abilities similar to Cassidy’s had painted a picture of him being attacked. And now Cassidy is finding wet footprints in her apartment as she continues to find links to the spirits through her paintings.

So the Gulf Coast Paranormal team investigates the site where the boy disappeared and learns that there are a lot of spirits lingering in the old house that used to be a speak easy in the 1920s. At least one of the ghosts is very angry and powerful enough to inflict some serious wounds on Midas. Like all the other stories in the series, this is a tale of love gone wrong and the team struggling to make things right a great many decades after the initial crime. As they do so, Cassidy begins to realize that she is having a lot of visits from ghosts in her own apartment and they are scaring her.

I think the best part of the story was the chapter in which Cassidy’s uncle visits her again. This really opens up Cassidy’s past as a source of future storylines for the series (as if her past wasn’t already fertile ground for ghost stories). Midas also has a death in his past that looks like it could turn into another problem with the spirit world.

6 The Ghost Lights of Forrest Field by M. L. Bullock

Gulf Coast Paranormal is back, this time investigating mysterious lights that appear over Forrest Field. The lights bring with them the ozone smell of electricity and there are stories of them burning people in the past so there is a greater level of danger than usual right from the beginning in this novel.

The mystery—the ghosts—date back to an eighteenth century judicial lynching of a woman accused of burning her friend to death. There is an undercurrent of racism in the lynching as the woman was having a relationship with a Native American that clearly scandalized the community. The GCP team has to figure out how to set all three spirits—the lynched woman, the burnt woman, and the Native American, to rest.

These novels are very short reads and they really work for me. I’m six into the series now and I’m still having trouble articulating just what it is that attracts me to them so strongly. I think the answer is in the relationships of the GCP team. I really like the characters and they all have their share of problems which help them come to life. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

7 The Ghost of Gabrielle Bonet by M. L. Bullock

Gulf Coast Paranormal is back looking into a haunting in a museum—several hauntings actually. The ghosts of many women shipped into the region to be brides of the settlers that preceded them are restless, and as our heroes investigate they learn that there was both a murder and a coverup in the past that is the root of the problem.

The aspect that makes this series so enjoyable is the tensions and interactions within the group of investigators. There was less of that this time around, but the fundamental question they have to deal with is an important one. Cassie’s paranormal talents have led the team down the path to many a solution, but they aren’t scientific evidence and the whole purpose of the group is to find evidence. It’s an interesting problem handled well by the author.

8 The Ghost of Harrington Farm by M. L. Bullock

Traveling to a Civil War reenactment, Midas and Cassidy get pulled into an investigation into paranormal activity involving an old house where four southern prisoners were murdered during the war. This novel crystalized for me something that has been troubling me for several books now. Cassidy’s ability to see the past is actually damaging the mysterious elements of the story. This whole book centers on the question of who actually murdered the prisoners—a lieutenant or a private—and yet the reader knows from moment one who really did the crime. There is no mystery. And it hurts the story. The investigation needs to bring up the evidence that leads to the solution, not be spoon fed it by Cassidy’s visions.

That being said, it’s still a good yarn. One of the team has cancer and it’s hard for the group to come to grips with that. And there’s a ghost dog that adds some warmth and humanity to the tale. I just wish that we could have a little less of Cassidy’s visions telling us what actually happened in the past.