My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Covenant is my first experience with Allan Leverone's writing, and while I mostly enjoyed this book I found it to be a bit too generic. This is a haunted house story and although the ghost of psychopathic Edward Collins is terrific, it does little to break new ground and I didn't find much in the way of surprises.
This is a shame because Collins is basically the ghost of a New England Jack the Ripper, and the opening chapters, told from the point of view of one of his victims circa 1800s, are very well executed. I could have easily read a book solely about Collins and likely have been very, very satisfied. Leverone then jumps forward to present day, where a young husband and wife have bought a fixer-upper house in Covenant, New Hampshire. In short order, Lindie Cooper is made a widow and brought under the scrutiny of Detective Nielson. From there, it's pretty standard, and mostly unexceptional, ghost fare until the final third when the action ramps up toward a predictable finale.
Leverone's writing, though, is smooth and the guy can certainly write a page-turner. Despite Covenant treading so much familiar ground, the prose kept me invested, alongside some great character work. I was fully invested in Lindie's plight and the growing stressors piled upon her. Here's a woman mourning the loss of her life's one true love, her life further upturned by a policeman who has drawn some very natural conclusions and just won't stop digging, compounded further by mysterious happenings inside her new home, which is fully stocked with her dead husband's belongings, and the site of his grisly, untimely death. I felt for Lindie, and she's truly a sympathetic character all the way through. There are a few other characters worth attention, as well, particularly Verna, a psychic medium well-versed on the history of Collins.
There's plenty of good stuff happening in Covenant, but most of it feels overly familiar and culled from a number of other haunted house stories. The arc of the characters, especially Det. Neilsen, are natural but mostly because they occur exactly as expected. There's plenty of built-in conflict and tension between the various roles within this story, but too few surprises. Despite some good character work and smooth writing, Covenant fails to break any new ground and is ultimately too formulaic to truly impress.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley and am a member of the DarkFuse Readers Group.]
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