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Salvage: A Ghost Story Kindle Edition
|Length: 347 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Salvage is the story of Owen Saddler, a 40-year old man struggling with the dysfunction and despondency of a life-long depression. His depression springs from traumatic experiences he suffered (but can’t recall) during the first five years of his life. He’s brought up by his mother, also a trauma victim, who refuses to reveal to him the identity of his father or the nature of the events that damaged him during his formative years. His half-sister Lori, eight years younger than him, has been his guardian angel. Lori loves Owen with a fierce devotion, and has made a selfless commitment to find a way to snap him out of his depression and help him achieve fulfillment and enjoyment in his life.
When Owen was thirteen, he catches a glimpse for the first time of a ghostly, menacing man who walks toward him across the surface of a lake before disappearing. This will not be his last vision of the revenant of Pastor Crouch.
In the beginning of the book, Own is devastated by the news that his beloved Lori has drowned in a diving accident at Chapel Lake, a lake that was created over 30 years earlier to serve a new hydroelectric dam. The town of Peace Falls was submerged under this lake, making Chapel Lake a haven for recreational divers and salvagers. The ‘Chapel’ in the name Chapel Lake derives from the abandoned church in the center of the lake whose steeple rises above the surface of the water.
Owen feels compelled to drop everything to travel up to Chapel Lake and investigate the death of his sister. He rents the same lakeside cottage where Lori stayed. He soon begins to experience ever-stranger supernatural experiences and visions – or are they the hallucinations of his own weary, dejected mind? Owen finds Lori’s journal at the cottage and meets long time residents who seem to know him from the past. He learns that he lived in the town of Peace Falls before it was deluged during those forgotten years of his early childhood.
The tension builds when he learns that Lori’s objective for visiting Chapel Lake was to discover the secrets of Owen’s traumatic past and also learn the identity of his father. Knowing that Lori sacrificed her life to assist him solidified Owen’s commitment to discover what really happened to her, and whether her death was indeed an accident or she was murdered to prevent her from meddling in matters that others wished to remain hidden.
What ever happened to the six members of the Blessed Trinity Mission who disappeared along with their enigmatic leader, Pastor Crouch, the day the town was inundated? Are the strange and increasingly menacing ghostly visitations Owen experiences – visitations presided over by Pastor Crouch, who is the same ghostly figure Owen saw approaching him across the surface of the water when he was a teen – real, or the figments of his hypersensitive imagination?
Owen meets Joelle Dunsmuir, who becomes his diving partner (and eventual lover) as he explores the recesses of the submerged church for clues. It turns out that Joelle grew up with Owen in Peace Falls, and shares with him revelations about the ever-deepening mystery.
Then townspeople start dying gristly deaths, most of them water-related. Pastor Crouch continues to return, seemingly a schizophrenic ghost alternating between the extremes of a force for good and an instrument of murderous evil.
The suspense and mystery continue to mount toward a horrific and unexpected climax. I won’t be a spoiler and reveal more than the framework of this tightly wound story. I recommend that readers plunge into this fast-paced narrative and find out for themselves. You won’t be disappointed!
The journey truly begins when Lori Saddler--an experienced diver--is found drowned in the remote town of Chaple Lake. Her older, half-brother Owen immediately has his suspicions, as Lori must have had an "ulterior motive" for journeying to such a place that would otherwise hold no interest for her, and questions how someone with her level of expertise would have found death in such a careless fashion. It is their strong, emotional bond that propels Owen in his obsession to uncover his sister's real motivation.
". . . You spend your whole life tiptoeing around death, it won't make it any easier when you lose someone you care about . . ."
This incredible tale takes the reader into realms never suspected. The area of Chapel Lake has bided its time, keeping its secrets close. Now, all of that is about to change when the past finally demands to be set free.
"This place is haunted. . . All of it. And it's not just the church, it's that Lake--. . . "
The characters in Salvage are multi-dimensional, and people that you could picture crossing on the streets. From Owen Saddler, with depression a constant companion for reasons even he remains unaware of, to Lori--his beloved younger sister who recognized his NEED for answers to his past long before Owen himself did--and all of the inhabitants of Chapel Lake, most of whom would rather leave the past buried, the emotions and desires of all become a part of the reader's world.
". . . Hope only exists to make the disappointments deeper . . . "
The sensation of death--both past and present--features heavily in this tale. What could evoke a stronger emotional attachment than this?
". . . People die all the time . . . It's a fact of life. You can't let that make you afraid to live."
Owen finds himself thrust out of his routine existence for perhaps the first time in all the years he can remember. From supernatural apparitions, to tales of the past long gone by, he will undergo a mental change, for better or for worse, as all he "thought" he knew is stripped to the very barest of facts.
". . . every man has two selves, in constant battle with one another--the man who is, and the man he's meant to be."
It's Owen's turn to discover this lesson, and in doing so, possibly reshape both the past and the future. While this was my first read by author Duncan Ralston, the rich atmosphere and evocative characters are more than enough to insure that I will be reading more from him in the future.
One of my favorite Stephen King books is Bag of Bones. Salvage made me think of Bag of Bones. They’re completely different stories, but the pace of the story and overall narrative seem to give a wink and a nod to King at times. Don’t get me wrong, Ralston by no means copies King’s style (Ralston clearly has a highly developed style that’s all his own), but he shows his influences at times in a classy and reverent manner.
I’ve read a bunch of Duncan Ralston’s work. Most of it has been outstanding, at a minimum, very good. At this point I’d say I’m a fan of his writing, the same way I’m a fan of Elmore Leonard, Trevanian, Carl Hiaasen, etc. I got no dog in this hunt, you read what you’d like. But, if you’re looking for a good book, well, this one will keep you turning the pages.
Most recent customer reviews
loved it just when you thought you had it all figured out bam throws a curveball into it