By: Joseph Stone
Publication Date: June 2022
Reviewed By: Tripti Kandari
Review Date: April 5, 2022
A Perfect Night, book one in Joseph Stone's The Haunted Women series, is a chilling mystery that revolves around an appalling family secret that is handed down through generations – only to females. Is there an ongoing connection with the spirits of loved ones, or an enigmatic “power of sight” passed from generation to generation? The reader will discover the answer as the narrative unravels the story of “The Haunted Women.”
Fourteen-year-old Frances Tarantino or Fran is all set to move in with her uncle and aunt, the Rizzos. Drew Tarantino, Fran's widowed father, who has been caring for Fran as a single parent for the past three years since Fran's mother died in an automobile accident due to an unspecified paranormal power, appears to be shirking his responsibilities. The Rizzos are a traditional Christian family with a ‘seemingly’ undramatic family life with five children. Fran finds a new environment at Rizzo’s which is different from the life she is used to living as a single child. Fran tells her aunt, Laura Rizzo, how her mother's spirit is with her each day, sending her gifts and “making beautiful ladybirds come” to her when she is sad. Laura, however unsettled and heartbroken, dismisses the youngster's confession as the result of a child who has recently lost a parent. Fran adores her mother's spirit and longs for it to manifest itself in some way. However, when the spirit of Fran's mother punishes her severely for minor-to-age misconduct, the reader must ask: Could it really be the spirit of her mother?
Meanwhile, Fran's father commits suicide, which she discovers in a dream. She realizes that she can now sense both her father's and mother's spirits. Fran tells her dowager great-aunt Aurora (her father's aunt) about her rare gift of seeing and experiencing spirits, who urges that she keep the subject quiet. Fran is not just heir to Aurora's grande dame fortune, but also to a bloodline that will make her the next generation of the haunted woman. Aurora wishes for Fran to prevent this "special power" (or curse disguised as a special power) from flowing down the lineage. Will Fran, the next in a long line of haunted women, be able to fulfill Aurora's wish to destroy the spirit that’s been possessing their bloodline for generations?
There is no denying the mysterious element of this book, which leaves the reader with bated breath until the very end. Through his characters, Joseph Stone discloses the psychology of both children and parents, as well as the very essence of what it means to be a human. Be it a sex desire to the point of discarding any sense of logic, or money matters that transcend goodwill, the characters' flaws provide a series of imperfect people with their own dilemmas – dilemmas that the reader cannot deem wholly immoral. Although some characters felt doomed, one can only wait and hope they will receive justice in the next book.
Quill says: A Perfect Night: The Haunted Women blends a ghastly mystery horror with an exuberant narrative devoted to teenagers' naiveté, and a splendid narrative about a Thanksgiving party, concluding with an ending that only heightens the anticipation of the sequel.
For more information on A Perfect Night: The Haunted Women, Book One, please visit the author's website at: www.authorjosephstone.com/