Petra's Ghost

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While at times this "ghost" story seemed somewhat predictable, the absolute beauty of the writing and the sheer moments of unexpected surprise that kept me on my toes kept me turning every last page. Daniel is walking the Camino de Santiago, something I'd not heard of prior to reading this story, and it sounds like an absolutely grueling and spirit purging trek. He's walking with his wife Petra's ashes, and carrying a metric ton of guilt. We don't find out why until the end, but we know the entire time that she'd passed young from cancer, and the guilt was tied to that. On the trail, he runs into Ginny from California, and Rob, a very pleasant and sweet Dutchman, and Mark a swine of an Englishman who will go on to play a huge role in this story. While on the trail with Ginny, they keep running into the vision?, specter, maybe of a rotting woman (the first description of her is incredibly confusing and makes her head sound disproportionately larger than the rest of her body). He gets separated from Ginny here, and continues to over, and over, and over again throughout the story, which is part of the predictability of story that I was talking about, and when you start to get clued in that something isn't quite right here with this Ginny character. Rob and Mark start dropping clues that something isn't quite right with this entire journey, and Daniel would do well to heed the clues. 

So that's the synopsis. It leads to a pretty climactic and then somewhat sad, in my opinion, ending. I can't give any of that away without ruining the whole story, but one character's story is nicely wrapped up while another's is kind of a horrifying end, again, IMO. The author's attention to detail in this book leaves nothing to the imagination in the best way possible. It's eloquently written, rich in both character and detail, and was mostly a pleasure to read. It veered into horror story at some parts, but I like a good horror story every now and then so it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. All in all it was both a scary and beautiful ghost story.
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I was given an ArC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley.
This was one of the best ghost stories I have read in some time. Highly recommend it.
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Two things immediately attracted me to this book: 1) The setting – I have walked a part of the Camino de Santiago myself and was eager to revisit this wonderful place through a book; and 2) The part of the blurb that reads “The lines start to blur between reality and madness, between truth and the lies we tell ourselves.” I’m a bit of a sucker for books that straddle the thin line between reality and madness, and when it also involves some ghostly activity I am sold!

I’m happy to say that the book delivered on all its promises and more. It starts off innocently enough. Daniel, an Irish expat now living in the US is walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Northern Spain to find a place to spread the ashes of his wife Petra, who died of cancer the previous year. They had wanted to make this trip together, so he thinks it will be a fitting journey to honour Petra, reflect on their marriage and come to terms with his loss before he has to go back to Ireland to take over the family farm. On a lonely mountain pass, Daniel meets another pilgrim, a mysterious young woman called Ginny, who asks if she can walk part of the trail with him. A hiker has recently disappeared on the trail, and young single females have been warned of the dangers of walking alone, so the request is not unreasonable. It is common on the Camino to make acquaintances and join in with others for part of the journey, then lose sight of them only to meet up again later. So even though neither Daniel nor Ginny don’t seem particularly eager for company, they end up teaming up for some stretches of The Way. 

At this point you may think that the story sounds very much like the famous movie THE WAY with Martin Sheen, but be assured that this is where the similarity ends. Because very soon after their first meeting, Daniel and Ginny have a horrific encounter with a frightful creature that lurks in a deserted cornfield in the dark. Daniel is sure they are being followed. But by whom? Person or ghost? Or the demons that haunt him after Petra’s death?

This was such a great read! Having walked some of the Camino, I could vividly picture the scenery and relate to the hardships of the long lonely hikes, but also the sometimes mystical atmosphere of this ancient countryside. Many of Daniel’s experiences (luckily not the scary ones) reflected my own feelings on the trail, and I thought how rare it is to find a book that so honestly describes the joys and woes of hiking, right down to the blisters and the reality of sharing a hostel room with fifty other smelly travellers. The author has totally nailed this setting, and even if you have never set foot on Spanish soil or hiked a mile in your life, you will soon be swept away on this great adventure. 

I loved the way the novel soon turns dark and more sinister, and unexplained things start happening. With Daniel grieving and in a state of emotional unrest, I was never sure if the air of danger and menace was purely in his imagination, or if there was indeed something evil afoot. The ancient, spiritual path combined with this ever- present aura of evil made for some tense reading, and I could not tear myself away! There were parts of the book were I felt trapped in a nightmare, my own mind unravelling just like Daniel’s. It was all so brilliantly done. One minute there was the bright side of the journey, the sunshine, the beautiful landscape, the quiet reflection and the social aspect of connecting with other pilgrims. And then there was the dark side, the eerie sightings, the sense of danger and menace, the personal demons that come out in the dark and the quiet to torment the unaware traveller. Yes, the trail does have that effect, that soporific meditative monotony of walking that can clear the stage for all the suppressed emotions to bubble to the surface. I loved it, and it was obvious that the author had walked the walk in order to talk the talk.

PETRA’S GHOST is an original, authentic and heartfelt book that both tugged on my heartstrings and threw everything into disarray I had considered reality. It is dark and scary at times, and the mystery at the heart of it had me eagerly turning the pages. This is one book I could not put down! It’s not easy to find books that feature hiking as the backdrop to a mystery (combining two of my favourite things), especially where the author manages to paint so realistic a picture, so I am thrilled to have come across this one. Highly recommended to anyone who is looking for a compelling mystery with a ghostly element that will mess with your mind but also tug at your heartstrings. I loved it and hope to read more from this author in future.
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Petra's Ghost is, as you'd expect from the title, a ghost story. However, the the true beating heart of this entertaining tale of pilgrimage is the theme of redemption and its many, often incomplete forms. 

Admittedly, I went into this book not having ever heard of the Camino de Santiago, an ancient Spanish pilgrimage route. C.S. O'Cinneide draws here on her own experiences while walking the route in 2015, and I need to point out what a fantastic job she does bringing the route to life, using real life locations and details that add realism to the story. The main character, an Irish ex-pat named Daniel, is a well drawn out figure of grief and guilt over the recent cancer death of his wife Petra. Daniel has come to the Camino to spread Petra's ashes and to perhaps find something in the pilgrimage for himself. 

Daniel soon meets Ginny, a girl from California who immediately proclaims him as "different", and an older Dutchman who takes on the role of wise sage. They're soon besieged by a mysterious entity that seems to follow them along the path. The book from this point assumes the dual roles of horror and travelogue: Daniel and Ginny visit many historical locations, festivals, and inns along the path, interspersed with encounters and far off sightings of the entity. Throughout the book, I found myself comparing certain sections to M.R. James' classic "'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad'". I can give no higher praise as I consider that one of my favorite ghost stories.

I'd imagine Petra's Ghost will rank fairly highly on my year end book list. Grief and guilt can be as terrifying as actual apparitions, but as one character succinctly puts it: Not all ghosts are out to harm you, but they all carry messages.

 ***I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Dundurn.**
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3 stars. Not a bad book by any means, but not mind-blowingly spectacular, either.

While the beginning of the story is very strong (I'll remember the cornfield scene for a long time), and the plot is kickstarted big time towards the end, the middle felt kinda boring and bogged down by the same thing over and over: Daniel meets Ginny somewhere (usually a cathedral/ church/ chapel), they either quarrel or something creepy happens, she hightails it out of there, Daniel sulks, they meet again in the next town, and the cycle begins anew. And that happens again and again. 

There is an explanation why that happens, (SPOILER!!!!) because it's revealed towards the end that the Camino is a sort of Purgatory where time is a circle and the ghosts are doomed to repeat the same cycle forever, and Ginny is a ghost, so she's almost hardwired to run away every time things get a little hairy. Dante's "Divine Comedy" is also name-dropped (I haven't read it yet so I can't get technical with any comparisons), and there's an important character named Beatrice. (END SPOILER) Let's just say I understand the point, but that doesn't mean I loved it.

One other spoiler-happy reason that dampened my enjoyment of the book was the fact that (SPOILER!!!) basically EVERY plot-relevant character that Daniel meets on the Camino turns out to be a ghost, Ginny, Rob, Mark the Englishman. It was a shock when we found out that Rob was one, but it really wasn't as much of a shock for the other two, especially Ginny, whose revelation came last. "Oh, her too? Alright, I guess" (END SPOILER) It almost felt predictable.

Other than the above, the book was enjoyable. I didn't feel like I wasted my time reading it, and it was written well enough for the pages to fly by. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of grief and guilt as literal apparitions that follow and chase people around: you can try to run, but you can't hide, like the Furies from Greek mythology.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. I do think that some changes could have made it a lot more enjoyable, though.
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A book you figured out but had to finish. It was interesting to read about pilgrims and the Camino Santiago. Grief is all consuming and dealing with it is very unsettling. Our normal self takes us to places and conjures up people and events that play havoc with our sanity. This book is an example of that. The blame game... if only I did this or that... Dealing with loss is a hard job that effects so many people on so many different levels.
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Daniel is in Spain walking the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage of 500 miles. Daniel is Irish and has been living in New jersey for many years. He intends to go back to Ireland and help his father on the family farm after walking the Camino and spreading Petra’s ashes along the trail.
Daniel and his wife Petra had always wanted to walk the Camino together but as he walks alone on the Camino, he finds it hard to find the perfect spot to spread Petra’s ashes. As he procrastinates his decision a young woman called Ginny befriends him and they walk together sharing their life stories.
As the days go by Daniel discovers they are being stalked by ghostly spirits.
Throughout this story there are descriptions of scenery, churches, towns, their accommodation and the different characters they meet along the trail. But all the while Daniel and Ginny struggle with their past and the ghostly spirits that follow them.
This was a good ghost story and I loved the way the Camino trail was described with snippets of historical and religious information.
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3.75/5- I'll preface this by saying that I was drawn to this book because it takes place on the Camino de Santiago which I have an interest in walking someday. Psychological thrillers aren't my typical genre but it's well constructed and engaging. (Unfortunately, it diminished my desire to walk the Camino a bit.)

Daniel is a widow walking the Camino, a pilgrimage from France to Spain, carrying the ashes of his widow, Petra, and a ton of guilt. Daniel hasn't come to terms with her death and is literally haunted by the recent past in his dreams. As Daniel seeks the right place for his wife's remains, he begins to realize everyone on the Camino has a story and he begins to engage with a couple of people who cross his path. Some seem to have a grip on life, like Rob, and others appear even more frightened and out of sorts than he is. When his strange dreams and waking hours begin to scare him equally, Daniel begins to wonder if someone is messing with his mind. Has someone hired some of the people he meets on the Camino? How much is coincidence and how much is torture at the hands of an unknown enemy? 

An interesting and creative novel and worth the read. Thanks to NetGalley for the free e-ARC.
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This is a story in which the setting has impactful role to the deeper understanding of the story. O'Cinneide's powerful story touched me personally in so many levels. I felt cultural, spiritual, religious, poetic connections to her words that placed me right into the events of the story. The author's word choice was crtical because they held the authenticity of life. This is definitely one if my favorite book, yet.
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I was really looking forward to reading this novel. El Camino de Santiago is in my bucket list. I knew the story was going to involve a murder and some other dark aspects, but really I thought this novel was a joke. Part travel log (and that part was great) and part mystery-horror I just didn’t think that it had a good flow. I pretty much DNF  it 60% of the way. I think I have too much respect and interest in this pilgrimage to enjoy a silly story that took this walk lightly.
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Petra's Ghost is a great mystery with such descriptions that you feel as though you  are part of the book. The book is well written and interesting characters.
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Petra’s Ghost is a clever and highly entertaining dark murder mystery thriller. The setting is the Camino de Santiago, an ancient, well-traveled 500-mile trail through northern Spain. Daniel is walking this trail, while carrying his wife's ashes. He has feelings of grief at his wife's passing and dark secrets over the cause of her death. As the story unwinds, there are many surprises and twists that make this an enjoyable read. This was an Intense, compelling, and wholly original novel that I highly recommend. An advance reader copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Thrilling, eerie story that kept my eyes on the pages!

The premise grabbed me right away. Daniel is walking the Camino de Santiago, an ancient, well-traveled 500-mile trail through northern Spain, with his wife's ashes in his backpack. He's harboring not only grief at his wife's passing, but also guilt and remorse over the manner of her death. Along the Camino he meets Ginny, another pilgrim on the Camino with her own reasons for walking. And they're being followed by a ghost.

To write any more about the story would be a disservice to future readers. There are so many surprises that there are twists within the twists. Petra's Ghost is a tightly-woven tale with succinct character descriptions and steady pacing. There are no lulls, no extraneous tangents, no distractions from the tension. O'Cinneide also depicts an enticing portrayal of the Camino, one that had me looking up images online and reading her blog entries from her own experience. 

If a macabre story with a chilling atmosphere piques your interest, grab this book as soon as you can.

Many thanks to Dundurn Press, Netgalley, and C. S. O'Cinneide for the advance copy. It was a joy to read!
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Petra is Daniel's deceased wife whom he carries in his backpack hoping to spread her ashes at the end of his pilgrimage through the Camino de Santiago.  Her ghost permeates this story as Daniel deals with his guilt about her passing, hoping this trip will bring him some closure and redemption.

This book is haunting, and if you are looking for a good ghost story this one is for you.  Reality becomes blurred with delusions and madness and like the trail stretching before him, Daniel finds himself fighting demons real and imagined.  The ending itself will keep you up at night with the lights on and looking over your shoulder.

Highly recommended!
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Ghosts on the Camino Santiago?  As I kept reading this murder-mystery-travelogue, I kept thinking:  is nothing sacred?  The story is well written and it has plenty of interesting characters.  Unfortunately, I've spoken to  too many people who have walked the Sacred Way and heard their glorious stories, and it was hard to picture a frightening ghost on the same trail they traveled.  Spoiler Alert: There is a macabre twist at the end.  
This book was definitely not for me, but it is will definitely be an entertaining read for dark mystery lovers..
My thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I chose to read Petra’s Ghost based on a few things: the cover, the description, and the reviews that it had received from previous readers. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! 

Daniel begins his pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile trail that crosses northern Spain. He is tasked with making some major life decisions and also finding a suitable place to scatter the ashes of his deceased wife, Petra. Along the way, he meets an unbeat California girl named Ginny, who seems the perfect companion for Daniel’s lonely heart. But soon after, they begin to be stalked by a rotting corpse ghost, leaving Daniel to question his reality on the Camino. 

C.S. O’Cinneide uses such descriptive writing in this book that often times I felt like I was walking the Camino myself, which I had very little background knowledge of before reading Petra’s Ghost. I was sucked into the story from the start, and found it very easy to follow along. I was eager to learn the identify of the ghost who followed Daniel and Ginny, but was even more pleasantly surprised with a couple of added twists in the conclusion. Overall, this was an enjoyable read, even for someone not interested in ghost stories!
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