Review: Dark Music by E.F. Watkins

Dark Music by E.F. Watkins
Series:  Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery
Release Date:  January 30, 2013
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Pages:  216
Source: book provided by the publisher for review

When Quinn Matthews buys a Victorian house in the New Jersey suburbs from a relative, she finally owns the home of her dreams. She tries to ignore the peculiar chill she feels whenever she goes near the attic, where her late uncle suffered a fatal heart attack.

Quinn, who writes about décor for a living, plans to restore the place in true 19th-century style. Her efforts, though, are hampered by strange accidents. She also hears classical piano music and gunshots from no earthly source, and finds eerie messages on a wall, a notepad and even her computer. Even an unstable next-door neighbor accuses her of “stirring up trouble” with her renovations.

Finally, Quinn accepts that her dream house is haunted. But the ghosts don’t want her gone—they want her to right a terrible wrong that took place in 1897.

A latent psychic gift makes Quinn identify strongly with their sufferings. Soon, she feels the strain on her relationships, her finances and even her sanity. To lay the ghosts to rest and keep the house she loves, she must re-investigate the murder of its first owner—a dashing classical pianist whose love life was far from Victorian…


Review:  About to be evicted from her apartment because she has a cat—and the mean owner really wants to convert to condos so is using this as an excuse—Quinn buys the old Victorian house her uncle’s family lived in for many years.  It was a great deal on her wallet, but not so much for her peace of mind.  As Quinn begins renovating her new (old) house, strange things begin happening, and she wonders if she’s gone ‘round the bend at first.  But when she catches sight of a misty apparition, she begins to understand that she and her cat are not the only occupants of the grand old house.

Delving into the history of previous owners, she discovers the original owner’s son Jeremy was a concert pianist—likely the source of the hauntingly beautiful concertos playing in her attic—who was shot to death in the front yard in 1897.  But Jeremy is not the only one lingering, and little tricks like painting “Help Me” on the wall, ghostly fingers typing out messages on her computer screen, and injuring workmen and male friends in the house lead Quinn to suspect there was a troubled young woman who lived there as well.  Quinn continues restoring the house even as she delves into the mysteries surrounding the house and former (current?) occupants.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a hauntingly good book full of spooks and spirits.  I very much enjoyed Dark Music, and I’m looking forward to more in the series.  The author has a strong voice for telling ghostly stories, and I’ve become a fan with this one book.  The story is told completely through Quinn’s first person viewpoint, and it works well for the book.

The setting and descriptions were so well-written, I could clearly see what everything looked like.  It sounds like a house I’d love to visit…during the day…with all the lights on.  At several points in the book, I definitely got chills and goose bumps, so bravo to the author for evoking emotions and chills in me as a reader!

While I would have liked more romance in the book, it was a good mystery, and I certainly didn’t figure out who shot Jeremy ahead of time.  Kudos to the author for crafting a great mystery story.  The book ties up loose ends nicely, but leaves it open enough so we’ll get to see more of Quinn, her burgeoning psychic powers, and her faithful friends…and maybe even her off & on again boyfriend, Tony.

I’ve definitely read books that have made me sleep with the bathroom light on…we’ll see tonight if that’s the case with this one.  <Insert ghostly music here>

Favorite Quote:  “By midnight, the temperature dropped enough to kick on the heat. I’d already bled the radiators to fix the banging, but the steam hissed and burbled through the pipes like a host of demonic voices.  They whispered together in backwards Latin—just a little too softly for me to hear—plotting my painful demise as a sacrifice to Satan.”


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