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For those looking for a good ghost story, The After House, by Michael Phillip Cash, delivers. Captain Eli Gaspar, a whaler, left his young wife and family to go on a hunt, believing that the need to provide them with material possessions trumped the importance of simply being with them. On the final leg of his last-planned journey, he takes on a mighty bull whale that lobtails, surprising the crew. The hunt leaves him and a young boy who accompanied him on the journey, the sole survivors. The Captain is surprised when he returns home, to learn of events regarding his wife and children. Ridden with guilt, he inhabits his family home, where he remains for over a hundred years, unable to face what awaits him if he moves on. Enter Remy Galway, fairly recently divorced and the new property tenant, her daughter, Olivia, her parents, and Hugh Matthews, her new love interest. When strange goings on occur at the house, readers will wonder: is it the Captain? Or, is there something less ethereal--and more sinister--going on.
The After House offered a refreshing change of pace. Although the ghostly events seemed a bit stretched with respect to the Captain's ability to manipulate physical things, I was willing to believe for the sake of the story. I liked Remy and Hugh. Their ability to forge a relationship, finally allowing Remy to leave her past behind, encouraged me. Olivia was a gutsy child. Finally, the dog that Remy's father gave to her helped create a believable family dynamic. If you like your stories to "haunt" you after you have turned the last page, look no further than The After House.