I wanted to like this book. Which is a silly thing to say, really, since I never pick up a book hoping to hate it, but I liked another book by this author and hoped this one would give me the same warm fuzzies. It didn't. I read The Medium about a year ago. I remember it had some grammatical issues, but the characters were interesting and I loved the premise and thought the execution was decent.
But this . . . this was basically the same book. Done poorly. Alas.
The plot is different, the names are different, and so forth, but the characters are pretty much the same. Claire is Emily, only stupider (she would say naive, but whatever). Jack is Jacob, only corporeal. Sam is Jacob's friend whose name I can't remember (we'll call him Love Triangle Candidate), and Sylvia is Celia. Different names, different hats, same personalities, same roles. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, since I liked those other characters, but it was putting those same characters in a different plot that created a problem for me.
I am now going to ramble on about the relationship dynamic between Claire and Jack, which is what killed this book dead for me. Because Claire and Jack are essentially Emily and Jacob, it's a foregone conclusion that they'll fall in love. Emily and Jacob's relationship dynamic was a large part of why I enjoyed The Medium. The whole "spirit medium falls in love with a spirit" thing was entertaining. It was pretty much insta-love, but it wasn't obnoxious insta-love, and the part about Jacob being apparently dead and unable to physically touch Emily made for some sweet, poignant moments.
Now we come to Claire and Jack. They also succumb to insta-love, but in circumstances I find so vile that it's just unacceptable. You see, Jack is Claire's kidnapper. He drugged her, tossed her in a carriage, and spirited her away against her will. And the very next afternoon she was noticing how handsome he is and resisting the urge to hold him. Really? Really? And, of course, in true Emily and Jacob fashion, they can't physically express their insta-love. The reasons are different, but it's the same gimmicky shtick, and all sweetness and poignancy is brutally murdered by the whole kidnapping thing. Does it matter that Jack claims he had Claire's best interests at heart? No. No it doesn't. Especially since in the scenario presented I can think of NO VALID REASON why they couldn't just TELL Claire what the hell was going on and ASK her if she'd like to come to Freak House. The kidnapping was a completely unnecessary plot device, and it pretty much ruined every other aspect of the book for me.
Well, that and the X-Men parallels (there was more than one), the Cockney accents (Londoners should be offended), and the poorly handled class division cliches. Freak House can burn to the ground, for all I care. If I'm going to hang out with these characters some more, it'll be in the Emily Chambers series where I first met them and actually liked them.