By Martin J. Best
It is often said that we all have a specific purpose in life. Something which we were simply “born to do”. Unfortunately, many people never actually figure out what that “purpose” actually is. Whether it is due to societal pressures, life circumstances, or even an ingrained lack of self-confidence, many individuals sadly miss their calling. At the same time however, certain people will fight through whatever may come their way to achieve their true destiny. Displaying courage and fortitude to overcome the many obstacles which will inevitably stand in their way. As a reader, it can be very satisfying to watch the little guy rise to the top. Indeed, if you add creepy paranormal and supernatural elements to such a scenario, you will have The Novice Ghost Hunter by author Martin J. Best. A great short read not only for fans of the supernatural…but for those who value the strength of the human spirit as well!
Essentially, the novella follows the escapades of the protagonist, Malachi (Mal) Hunter. He is very passionate about the supernatural and as such has become a virtual outcast and running joke amongst his peers. Such oppression has created a significant barrier which has prevented him from exploring his interests and true calling in life. In truth, rejection and ridicule have left him with little sense of self worth or confidence. However, out of the blue he is approached by the very attractive Anna Spaulding and asked to investigate mysterious happenings which have been occurring at a property managed by her Father’s agency. Will this be the break Mal has been waiting for to finally reveal his true talents in life? Or will the reality of the situation be too terrifying, and destined to be yet another humiliating failure which will once again force him into the shadows?
While I am not generally a huge fan of short stories, I do believe if they are executed well then they can be exceedingly powerful. This is just such the case with this novella. The plot flows smoothly and the writing is meticulous. The very human theme of overcoming obstacles in life is beautifully supported by the supernatural aspects of the work. What I really enjoyed was that this is a book which encourages the reader to actively utilize their own imagination. It is not full of blood and gore for the mere sake of blood and gore! However, what it does contain is a very eerie story which virtually transports the reader right into the pages of the novella. You will feel as if you are actually there…carefully listening to figure out what on earth made that creaking sound- or what is that glow over in the corner? Where is it coming from? Martin J. Best does a masterful job in tweaking the reader’s psyche and allowing them to suspend disbelief. For me personally, this is the most engaging type of writing.
As for the characters in this story, there were a few supporting players such as Anna Spaulding, but they were there to primarily support the ongoing development of Malachi. And develop he does! In truth, it can be quite tricky to fully develop a character in sufficient depth when dealing with a relatively short novella. However, we are able to see a dramatic transformation in Mal throughout the tale. He is slowly coming into his own right before our reading eyes. In fact, it leaves the reader to believe much bigger things are on the horizon for this particular ghost hunter!
I would highly recommend this novella to all adult readers. It is short and can easily be completed in one sitting. It is also powerful writing which will capitalize upon your emotions and capture your imagination. I also do not believe it fits neatly into any one particular genre. I simply consider it to be great writing and a gripping story.
5 out of 5 eerie stars for this one! *****