Editorial Review: Ghostly Howls by Stephanie Hansen
There’s always been something strange about best friends Orla and Molly, which is why they’ve been ostracized by many in their small town. However, what people don’t know is that not only is Orla a soul possessor and Molly a half banshee, but they might also be the only ones with the powers to save the town from a killer.
Ghostly Howls is a paranormal fantasy romance by Stephanie Hanson set in the small town of Ethel, VA. With a population of under a thousand, it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, which makes best friends Orla and Molly stand out even more. Orla is a soul possessor whose ability works via touch, which means she keeps her distance from everyone. Unfortunately, this includes Dave, a man she has been in love with for as long as she can remember. The feeling is clearly mutual, but Dave respects Orla’s wishes not to be touched or to touch anyone.
Meanwhile, Molly is a half-banshee whose powers include the ability to “hear” when someone is within weeks of dying. Since her ability stretches for miles out, she remains in Ethel to avoid getting overwhelmed. Molly is also madly in love with her partner, Cormac, but lately, the relationship between the two women has been a bit rocky. Not only is Molly worried about Cormac not answering any of her calls or texts, but she also begins to have disturbing visions about her.
Along with the difficulties in the love lives, Orla and Molly soon discover that not everything in Ethel is as it should be. What begins with mysterious ghostly sightings soon turns into the discovery of a murder victim, which is almost unheard of for the small town. Molly is relieved when Cormac eventually shows up again but is perturbed to hear what her partner has been up to while going radio silent. Apparently, she’s been helping some local fishermen who claim to be seeing and hearing strange things out on the water at night. As Orla and Molly try to figure out what is happening to their town, they notice some disturbing similarities with the small Irish town of Drogheda, which suffered its own tragedies during the 17th century.
The story in Ghostly Howls is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of both Orla and Molly. Due to the small town location, it is not a sprawling, epic tale but focuses a lot on the women’s personal hopes, dreams, and fears. Both of them struggle with love due to their supernatural heritage and must come to terms with who they are if they want to stand a chance with their love interests. However, Ghostly Howls is also a supernatural mystery and incorporates some interesting Irish Myths and legends in the story. The story moves along at a brisk pace, and seeing events unfold from two different perspectives keeps readers invested. Along with Orla and Molly, who are charming enough that readers will root for them, the story also features a great supporting cast. Dave and Cormac are both great matches for the heroines, but they are by no means perfect and have their own flaws to contend with.
Overall, Ghostly Howls is a riveting novel that wastes no time getting to the good parts and keeping readers hooked to the end. It does contain some mature elements, but these are tastefully portrayed and don’t feel out of place in the story. Fans of paranormal fantasy romance novels who enjoy a good story with a satisfying resolution should definitely add Ghostly Howls to their TBR list.