Who You Gonna Call?

“They say that the first time is the most dangerous.”

Do you know your local lore? Maybe there’s a house near yours that’s haunted, or maybe a friend of a friend swore that your school was built atop an old cemetery. For Erasmo, he knows that the local train tracks are haunted by the ghosts of children; having died in a horrific accident, they now lie in wait around the area, hoping to save others from the same fate.

Years ago, Erasmo was saved by those ghost children and now people think he’s been “touched”. He doesn’t know what to think, but now that his grandma has been diagnosed with cancer, he needs to start believing in the power of the supernatural quick. But his new career as a paranormal investigator is proving to be more dangerous than he thinks, and it’s not the ghosts he has to worry about.

Full disclosure: I am super into witchcraft and occult-related topics, so in reading this, I couldn’t help but nitpick at certain topics. That being said, most of the information provided in The Ghost Tracks was accurate and it’s clear Celso Hurtado did their research. I say “most” information because there is some discussion here about closed practices that I have no knowledge of, so I can’t verify the claims.

My main critique of this story is that despite its title and blurb, it’s not actually a ghost story. Hurtado constantly leads us down a path that seems paranormal at its core, only to pull back the curtain at the last moment and reveal there’s nothing lurking in the shadows. Even Erasmo flip flops on his own beliefs on whether there’s actually anything spooky in his town despite his job.

There’s nothing wrong with a horror story that isn’t centered around ghosts, of course, I have reviewed a couple of horror books this year that are about the evilness of humanity but I guess that the blurb had misled me and I found myself getting constantly frustrated with the book.

The premise of the book is exciting though and I love the idea of a paranormal investigation agency. What makes it all the better that Erasmo is not going in like your average horror movie protagonist, instead he’s armed to the teeth with knowledge about any and all entities. He can be a bit naive of course, but weren’t we all when we were 17?

The antagonists in the book are actually terrifying as well and I felt genuinely scared for Erasmo when he was in over his head. The villains really carried the novel with their warped perspectives of the world, and their crimes are enough to make anyone living along lock their doors.

Had the book actually been about ghosts and this 17 year old boy going about his town trying to exorcise them, I think I would enjoyed this book a lot more. But as it stands, I don’t think The Ghost Tracks is the one for me.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Ghost Tracks by Celso Hurtado will be released November 2.

This review first appeared in The Reader Who Came In from the Heat. Subscribe for more reviews in your inbox.

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Hui Ying is an undergraduate working on her debut poetry collection and novel. Find them on Twitter at @distanceofio.

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Hui Ying

Hui Ying

Hui Ying is an undergraduate working on her debut poetry collection and novel. Find them on Twitter at @distanceofio.

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