Ripley Patton – Ghost Hold

ripleypatton_ghosthold_ebook_finalOlivia Black is back.

Only this time she’s not the one in need of rescue.

Samantha James, rich, popular, and an award-winning composer at age seventeen, is the next target on the CAMFers’ list. In order to convince Samantha to come with them, Olivia and Passion must pose as cousins, blend into the most affluent high school in Indianapolis, and infiltrate a mysterious cult known as The Hold.

Olivia doesn’t expect it to be easy, even with the PSS guys backing them up. But what she discovers over the course of the mission will call into question everything she ever believed about herself, her family, and especially about Marcus, the guy she is undoubtedly falling in love with.

Ghost Hold is the second book in the PSS Chronicles after Ghost Hand and continues the story of Olivia Black and friends in their struggle to remain safe from those who would do them harm. It’s very much a middle book, as it doesn’t really standalone. We start the novel weeks after the ending of Ghost Hand and end it on a huge cliff hanger with not much explanation of what has gone before in-between, which means that it’s necessary to have read Ghost Hand before starting Ghost Hold and when you finish it you’ll really want to start book three immediately when it is released next year. 

We re-join Olivia, Marcus, and the rest of the group when they arrive fresh of the trail in Indiana to go and rescue Samantha James, the next name on the CAMFer list. Marcus has arranged a place for them to stay and new false identities which they will use as cover. We quickly get the lay of the land within the group, with Marcus and Olivia only having grown closer and Olivia and Passion still awkward around each other due to the events of the previous book. And as ever the three boys, Jason, Yale, and Nose orbit around them being mostly attached to Marcus. Olivia is still her loveable, snarky self. I liked the way Patton played out her relationship with Marcus. She keeps it interesting, without letting Olivia sliding too far into the apologetic girlfriend role. She makes Olivia – and Passion for that matter – stand up for herself and demand to be treated with respect. But Olivia’s development in this book isn’t all about the boy. She discovers some pretty shocking things about her family’s past and she discovers that she’s spread her wings and can’t return to her small-town home in Greenfield.

Marcus’ secretive nature is starting to work against him in Ghost Hold, when time and again Olivia catches him in an outright lie or a lie by omission. While at first Olivia tries to rationalise them to herself, blaming them on Marcus’ troubled past and the need he’s had for secrecy in the past, but slowly it just becomes too much and she calls him out on it. And she’s not the only one who’s questioning Marcus’ decisions; when he decides to have all of them armed and taught to shoot, Yale doubts whether that’s a wise decision. The unquestioning obedience from the first book is gone. I really liked Passion’s development more than Marcus’. We really get to know her and her past and there are some surprising revelations from the pastor’s daughter, one of the major ones is that she is a lesbian. The only thing I found a little disappointing in this regard was that where Patton stayed away from the insta-love thing with Marcus and Olivia, she lets Passion and Samantha fall in love instantly. Or perhaps more accurately they crush instantly, but the attraction is immediate and mutual and they’re an item in about half a day. I understand that because this novel takes place in the space of two weeks at the most, there wasn’t much time to develop this burgeoning relationship in, but I really don’t like this instant relationship trope.

One other thing I found problematic was the fact that a lot of the elements established in the first book are treated as known fact. The reader never gets a refresher on some fairly important things. For example, we know the CAMFers are bad news, but why and who they are exactly is never really repeated. Similarly, there is a list of PSS kids who the CAMFers are trying to snatch, but we never get a clear recap of this. I dislike it when authors feel the need to give bio’s for every character we re-encounter each book, but at the same time Patton’s approach is completely minimalistic and that’s a bit too far to the other extreme for my taste.

Still, despite those problems, I had a great time with Ghost Hold. I loved how Patton further developed her world and how she went about creating relationships and friendships between Olivia, Marcus, Passion and the three boys. The story was thrilling and Patton threw in some twists that are absolutely delicious. And the biggest twist of all comes right at the end, which leads to my biggest complaint: I’ll have to wait at least till the autumn to read how this ends and I want to know now! *stomps foot like a two-year-old in a tantrum* Seriously, the PSS Chronicles are great fun and super-fast reads. If Ghost Hold sounds appealing make sure you’ve read Ghost Hand first to get the most out of the story.

This book was provided for review by the author.

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