Review: The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar


Title: The Stubborn Dead

Author: Natasha Hoar

Publisher: Carina Press



May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it’s her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles’s house, she finds a wraith who doesn’t act like he should.

The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him—a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she’ll have her supernatural abilities bound.

When Janus Ostara—local supernatural mob boss—shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn’t need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.

Between uncovering Sylvia’s disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he’s supposed to be dead…,


I loved this novella from the first sentence to the last!  It starts with a bang, and the excitement never lets up.  Rachel, a Rescue Medium, releases spirits that are trapped, or refuse to leave, the earthly realm.  She’s good at her job, powerful, and confident in her abilities.  When she is set-up and forced to engage a wraith far outside of powers of any spirit she has ever encountered, she faces dismissal from Order that governs the rescue mediums, as well as the threat of having her powers sealed away.  So not a good way to start the day!

I haven’t read many Urban Fantasies, and as I experiment with new titles and authors, I am finding a lot to like out there.  Since so many of the UF titles are series, it’s intimidating to try to jump onboard after there are already several volumes available on bookstore shelves.  Whenever I see a new series, I have been making it a habit to try to read them.  Since The Stubborn Dead is a novella, and I had just finished up some other Carina Press novellas, I was even more tempted to read this.  I squeezed it into the schedule, and was pleasantly surprised with the pacing and the characters.  I also loved Natasha Hoar’s writing style – her prose grabbed me right away, and didn’t let go.  Once I started reading the story, I really, really did not want to stop.

Rachel is a great character.  She is capable, confident, fearless. Even when a nasty spirit is trying to bash her through a wall, her determination to successfully finish a job never wavers.  So when she encounters the wraith that Sylvia Elkele has hired her to get rid of, she is taken aback.  Nothing makes the powerful spirit pause for even a second, and Rachel finds herself retreating, hastily, from her first attempt to subdue it.  Now that she has engaged it, though, she has no choice but to defeat it, and to make things even more interesting, the Order has given her a deadline.  She has 48 hours to handle her spirit problem, or she will be unemployed and powerless.  Yikes! 

I enjoyed the mystery that Rachel found herself embroiled in, and found her both a clever and interesting character.  Impulsive, to be sure, and that made her even more relatable for me.  She doesn’t often stop to think things through, and this impatience gets her into a lot of trouble.  She is also overconfident, a character flaw that almost gets her killed.  I also liked her fearlessness.  She is up against badass spirits, and she doesn’t hesitate to enter into each new fray. 

I loved this novella, and I am looking forward to more from Natasha Hoar.  This was such a fun read that she has been added to my auto-buy list.

Grade: A-

Available January 23

Review copy provided by publisher


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Interview with Jillian Stone, Author of An Affair with Mr Kennedy

Jillian Stone is the author of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, a book that captured my attention from the first moment I saw the cover.  Look at the gorgeousness!  It has a Remington Steele vibe, and I am really looking forward to digging into this book! I asked Jillian to stop by the virtual offices so I could ask her a few questions.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jillian Stone] In 2007 debut author Jillian Stone reinvented herself, wrote a Romantic Suspense novel, won the 2010 Golden Heart and sold to Pocket Books.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy?

[Jillian Stone] Here’s a brief blurb: Beneath gas lit streets, anarchists with bombs plot a deadly attack on Victorian London. Scotland Yard detective Zeno “Zak” Kennedy’s investigation leads him into the arms of free-thinking, Impressionist painter Cassandra St. Cloud, whose connection to the terrorists catapults their passionate affair into perilous adventure.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jillian Stone] I knew I wanted to write a historical romantic suspense series and got to thinking about Scotland Yard detectives. It seemed to me that Yard men were always portrayed as bumbling inspectors, five moves behind Sherlock Holmes. So I thought, what if there was an elite group of detectives? So I began to do some research and found out that there was a division of Scotland Yard created in the 1882 called Special Branch. I added a touch of James Bond Steampunk and that was the start of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard. The heroines in each book are fascinating, progressive Victorian women. There is an Impressionist painter, an industrialist and a ballerina/jewel thief/spy!

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Jillian Stone] The worldbuilding for An Affair with Mr. Kennedy took hundreds of hours of research, but it was work I loved doing. Best part? Walking the streets of London, knowing exactly where the characters live, work, eat, sleep, make love––which underground line they take to get home! While researching I often come across the most amazing little nuggets of information that I use to deepen the story and make the world come alive.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you feel the first time you saw the cover for your book?

[Jillian Stone] SWOON might almost be the word to describe it. You’ve seen Mr. Kennedy, right? There’s something intense and visceral about him and he’s fully clothed! I had the best compliment the other day from another writer who said, "He looks like a Victorian James Bond." Now you know that made me happy!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things a Scotland Yard detective would never have in his bedroom?

[Jillian Stone] No wearing of nightshirts. No shortage of condoms. No unsatisfied lovers––all heroines are well pleasured!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jillian Stone] Here are just a few: Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Bob Dylan, Guillermo del Toro, Debussy, the blues-ier stylings of Amy Winehouse, Johnny Depp, Alexandre Desplat. My reading influences are extremely eclectic, from Lewis Carroll to Diana Gabaldon to Ray Garton’s sexy, edgy horror fiction. I am currently reading Meljean Brook, Sylvia Day and Zoe Archer.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jillian Stone] Eight hours sleep. Coffee. And my muse, he’s amazing!

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jillian Stone] I always enjoyed reading, but one summer I borrowed Gone with the Wind from my mother’s bookshelf and that was the beginning of the love affair.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jillian Stone] Whenever possible I squeeze some fun into a hectic writing schedule. For a quick afternoon break I love to steal away to a neighborhood cineplex, munch popcorn, and escape for two lovely hours.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can learn more about Jillian by visiting her website.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

An Affair with Mr. Kennedy hits store shelves January 31.  You can pre-order An Affair with Mr. Kennedy in print or digital format – just visit your favorite bookseller, or click the links below: