Book Review: “The Ghost Box” by Mike Duran

Reagan Moon — paranormal reporter, terminal underachiever, and staunch cynic of the human race. The only ghosts he really believes in are the ones in his own head.

But his world is about to get an upgrade.

When Moon is hired by a reclusive tycoon to investigate the events surrounding his girlfriend’s tragic death, he learns of an impending apocalypse about to flatten Los Angeles. Seems that the Summu Nura, ancient gods from a parallel dimension, are looking for a new stomping ground. And Hollyweird is ground zero. What’s worse, Reagan Moon is the only one who can stop them.

With the help of an occult archivist and a carefree guardian angel, Moon is forced to confront an invisible world of toxic parasites and dimensional outriders. But no amount of magic can save him from monster that awaits… inside him (Amazon.com).

I bought this book because of the cover. Pure and simple.  Kirk DouPonce did a great job with it–even won a Parable Award–and I had to give it a go.

The Ghost Box lived up to its cover. This is an intense, intelligent urban supernatural thriller with a sharp, sarcastic edge and another underdog protagonist to add to my list of favorites.

Author Mike Duran is clearly accomplished in his craft and has a solid editor. This is a well-paced, well-written story that doesn’t waste a sentence, and ramps up the tension with every chapter. The sense of setting is particularly well-done. Duran uses Reagan Moon’s strong, first-person voice to describe situations and characters in a way that is fluid and often humorous.

The Ghost Box treads some very familiar paths dealing with a cynical main character, ancient relics, and the end of the world via spiritual evil. However, Duran goes a step further by giving Reagon Moon a strong character arc through the book. This is another character who has plenty of warts and blemishes on his personality and in his soul, but is thoroughly relatable and sympathetic in his weakness. Also, kudos on the portrayal of women. Both Arlette and Kanya are strong, intriguing characters with distinct personalities and agendas. At the same time, Reagon Moon’s tenacity and quirky street smarts made him useful in his own right, and he is never overshadowed by the characters around him.

Note: this is a mature read, with a scattering of profanities and mature themes. There is also quite a bit of discussion about different religions, philosophies, the occult, and conspiracies. In terms of worldview, Duran goes for a bit of a speculative route on angels and demons that is clearly put forth as a “what if,” and not as theology by any means. Duran has clearly researched different worldviews, and incorporates them strategically to tell his story.

Final Verdict: an enjoyable read, with a likable underdog protagonist and a great story. I look forward to the next book in the series–and hope for another awesome cover!

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