I’ve recently become obsessed with Elton John. In fact, my iTunes counter says that I’ve listened to his Madman Across the Water album over fifty times. Now, this really has no relation to the story, other than the fact that the aforementioned album makes a great soundtrack while you’re reading Paula Morris’ newest novel, Dark Souls. So, if you were wondering what you should listen to while reading Dark Souls, there you have it.
Dark Souls follows Miranda Tennant, a young Iowan who sees ghosts. Miranda’s paranormal sightings turn ultra-spooky when her parents, in an attempt to help Miranda and her brother recover from a recent tragedy, take the whole family on a vacation to York, England. There Miranda meets a host of interesting characters, but realizes that she has issues of her own to solve before she can go about solving everyone else’s problems.
Dark Souls is the compilation of several ghost stories and myths, tied together with the stereotypical binding of a damaged lead female and her dark, brooding leading man. And while Miss Morris appears to have made an earnest attempt at a ghost story, she ends up with a weak, watery story that is easily consumed and even more easily forgotten. Dark Souls is a rather flat, single-layered story that lacks both emotion and personality.
When it comes to characters, Morris’ creations seem to exist only in their external conflicts. Their personalities are completely reliant on tragedy; apart from their doom and gloom, Miranda & co. are totally empty. Their thoughts and emotions are rarely breached, instead being substituted with marvelously crafted backstory.
Backstory: that is the one thing Dark Souls seems to excel at. The characters’ histories and relations are brilliantly conceived and written, which is quite a shame; if Morris could have vested that much talent into the rest of the book, we’d be looking at a book comparable in gothic-ness and character development to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Dark Souls has its highs and its lows; but the lows unfortunately outnumber the highs.
Lilly is fearless, except when it comes to spiders. Lilly is brave, except when it comes to extreme sports. Lilly is awesome, no matter what.