Badlands: The Rising – Morgan Brice
A big storm is brewing, there’s a killer on the loose, and the ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his sexy cop boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato have their hands full helping the Grand Strand brace for rough surf, driving rain, and high winds as a winter storm roars toward shore.
Everyone’s on edge, and rumors are rampant about sightings of Blackcoat Benny, a ghostly omen of danger, and worse, the Gallows Nine, the spirits of nine infamous criminals hanged back in the 1700s, a harbinger of disaster. Rough tides wash the wreck of an old pirate ship into shallow waters, high winds threaten to damage an old mansion with a dark past, and the citizens of the beach town hunker down to ride out the storm.
As the skies grow dark and the sea turns wild, several men from prominent local families end up dead under suspicious circumstances. Simon’s premonition confirms Vic’s gut feeling—the killing is just getting started. As Simon tries to reach out to the spirits of the murdered men to help the investigation, he’s attacked by malicious ghosts that don’t want anyone getting in the way of their long-overdue vengeance.
With the storm hammering the coast, and new victims piling up, Simon is certain that the sins and secrets of the past are coming due, and that the murders have a supernatural link. Vic and Simon race to stop the murders against an unholy deadline, but as they battle rising tides and risen ghosts, can they save the intended victims without getting trapped themselves?
The Rising is the second novel in the Badlands series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.
Hmm…I don’t know if I’m in a slump but I wasn’t into this the way I was with the first book, Badlands.
I like Simon and Vic and appreciated that the book avoided the usual petty squabbles between couples, focusing instead on the adjustment to their new life and dealing with the fears and dangers of being in a relationship with a cop and a psychic. However, much as I like these developments, I can’t help feeling that the execution of their couple downtime felt a little mechanical a.k.a kind of blah. This is something I’ve noticed with Morgan Brice‘s books, the smexy times are not necessarily forced into the scenes but they don’t feel organic either.
The book is a great mix of police and psychic procedural, taking time to lay out the step-by-step of the investigations and Simon’s rituals. Simon had to deal with dead pirates, sunken ships, haunted houses and vengeful ghosts while Vic tackled a case of multiple suicides, murder and possibly, spirit possession. The cases crossed paths and led them to two ghosts who were bitter enemies back in the day when they were privateer and pirate. And one of them had a special connection to Simon!
As interesting as these sounded, I wasn’t surprised by any twists. I found that answers came too easily, via visions. This is convenient and welcome since it makes life easier and safer for Simon and Vic but it also makes it easier to predict the outcome. I guess it makes a nice change from the usual vague and obscure psychic visions but unfortunately doesn’t help in creating tension and excitement.
The highlights for me were the seances and these were definitely suspenseful and exciting. Narrator Kale Williams did a wonderful job creating varied voices, some pitiful and some malevolent and he was able to amp up the scare factor effectively. As if that’s not scary enough, it’s quite something to read about these events in the dead of night where spirits were summoned, witches worked their magic and a storm unleashed its fury while an actual one is raging outside right at the exact moment. Talk about realism!
What’s also fascinating about this book are the rich folklore and the magical practices that the author was able to make good use in the story, particularly through Miss Eppie’s and Gabriella’s talents, in addition to Simon’s academic background and his skeleton crew’s gifts Their hoodoo and witch magic made them formidable enemies so it’s a good thing they got Simon’s back. I want to see more of these folk magic again in the future.
Overall, The Rising had all the right ingredients but some things were bland and predictable. This could be a ME thing because many people gave it high ratings. I’d still read the next books. The Badlands series, and Brice‘s paranormal universe as a whole, has many interesting elements that I would like to explore. I’ll give this one a passing grade for now.
Badlands books are best read in order. Review of book 1 here
Other psychic series you might enjoy:
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it