Sunday, July 13, 2014

REVIEW: Diary of the Gone / Ivan Amberlake

TITLE: Diary of the Gone
AUTHOR: Ivan Amberlake
PUBLISHER: Self-published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon (Kindle), Amazon (paperback)

Young Adult - Horror/Paranormal

Creepy but not gory or particularly violent. Appropriate for young readers (reminded me a bit of Goosebumps).


Diary of the Gone is a creepy little horror novella about a fifteen-year-old boy, Callum, who sees ghosts of the dead. The only thing he can do to keep them away is write about them in his diary - which is what the title refers to (he calls the ghosts "the gone"). But then, his visions start touching the real world when a boy from his school vanishes, and he starts seeing the boy's ghosts. And when Callum's own friends start disappearing, he realizes he can't run from his curse any longer...

Ivan Amberlake is a fine writer with a gift for bringing settings and emotions to life and transport you into his world. The haunted environment in which Diary of the Gone takes place ... creepy swamps, chilling spirits, shiver-inducing visions... really stand out, and Callum's sometimes tortured, sometimes deadpan, always tense voice makes him come alive. And the plot intrigue - the disappearing kids, secrets from the past - keep the story moving forward. It's a short, quick read, and I enjoyed every moment.

As far as young adult books go (and I've been reading a LOT lately), Diary of the Gone slides right into the category while avoiding the pitfalls that often come with it. No overlong whining here - the tight nature of the novella won't allow for it. While the premise (boy seeing dead people) isn't totally original, it hardly matters in this context. I love a good ghost story, and sometimes, I just want a good old-fashioned chiller. And what was great about this book was that it wasn't TOO horror-y. There were plenty of scares, but no gratuitous gore or violence. The fear was achieved through suspense rather than shock, which was great.

So if you're looking for a quick, creepy paranormal read, I highly recommend that you give Diary of the Gone a try.


Ivan Amberlake is the author of The Beholder, an urban fantasy novel. He's a member of Breakwater Harbor Books, an author's collective, and a book blogger for Book Reveal.

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