Cover Image: The Ghost Tracks

The Ghost Tracks

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Member Reviews

Very enjoyable and unique perspective of ghost story telling. The characters were compelling and fun.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Inkshares for this ARC.  I appreciate it.
#NetGalley #Inkshares #CelsoHurtado #TheGhostTracks

I have recently found a fondness for YA horror.  I discovered it  by accident i.e. not realizing it was YA until I was hooked.  This is a ghost story and I loved it.  I love the ghosts and the gore. I’ll definitely look for further books by this author.  
This is a story about a young ghost hunter who opens a supernatural detective agency in order to help pay for his grandmother’s cancer treatments.  The description on it calls it “Fear Street for a diverse America”.  I would call that an excellent description!  Very good, easy and enjoyable read.
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The Ghost Tracks was spooky good. Erasmo s such a fun and creative character and the premise totally awesome!  Erasmo takes his love the supernatural to a new level when he opens up a detective agency to help those with supernatural problems. He does this all to help his grandmother pay for her cancer treatments. It's really wonderful look at what it means to be family.
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Didn't capture my attention and engagement. Interested in trying it again though and hopefully it will take.
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Using a San Antonio, Texas, folklore story for the premise made this YA horror fiction feel unique. Strong story building will keep the reader guessing about what is hiding around the next page, and the fast-paced trajectory will hold the interest of even the most reluctant reader. 

Solid YA horror fiction that will creep you out, but that also has a lot of heartfelt moments as well.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Celso Hurtado, and Inkshares for an e-arc of The Ghost Tracks in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen year old Erasmo and his best friend, Rat, are in desperate need of money so they place an ad on Craigslist.  If you need help with a supernatural problem, give them a call and they will help.  

They get three promising responses.  Now the pair has to figure out if a series of seemingly unexplainable occurrences are actually paranormal or if they are being played.

I loved how this story unfolded.  I loved getting little snippets of Erasmo’s backstory as we explored the current plot.  I was very intrigued with the mystery behind the Ghost Tracks and how it pertained to Erasmo’s credibility as an expert in the paranormal.  I loved the ambiguity throughout, not knowing most of the time if what Erasmo and Rat were dealing with was just people playing jokes on them or actually supernatural in nature.

Erasmo is a very naive character, so it would be entirely plausible for him to be taken advantage of for his ‘celebrity’ status.  This naivety also makes it frustrating to read at times, but overall, this was a solid horror novel.  It had a good bit of violence and gore, but it didn’t really seem excessive.  

It also seems as though this has been set up so it could be a series, and I would be ok with that.
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I'm genuinely torn about my thoughts about this one. There are some validly engaging points throughout the book, and I like our central characters, however, there are some less than pleasant sections that hit very wrong just when we're prepared to be approaching a true resolution to the plot and several subplots that figure into it. As a result some parts of the book come off uncharacteristically bleak and discordant, particularly as we engage with self - destructive actions and denial in a one two punch that comes off as unpleasant and honestly out of true for the characters and their development. There's something genuinely good about Erazmo's narrative here, make no mistake, but I was left feeling like the book could have used a bit more development in the latter half and we could have used a bit more grounding in these resolutions.
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I DNF this book. After about 50% I gave up becuase the story made less and less sense. 
There is this boy, Erasmo - I kinda liked him and he is only character I liked - who sets up shop as a paranormal investigator but as he meets clients he thinks all of them are nuts. 
He says he belives but at the same time he doesn’t.
All the other characters are mostly unlikable and one-sided.

My other problem was that the story was hard to follow, made unexplicable jumps. 

I really liked the book’s discription so I’m disappointed that I couldn’t even finish it.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy.
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I struggled with this one a little bit...

Narrative follows seventeen-year-old Erasmo as he decides to create a supernatural detective agency. He puts an ad in the paper and the story unfolds from there. To me, this certainly had more mystery elements than I was expecting for a book with supernatural elements. There's more discussion around grief and abandonment from your parents and how that impacts the decisions you make in life. I feel like the events that happened would've been a little more believable with an adult character. It all seemed a bit much for someone Erasmo's age. BUT THAT EXORCISM SCENE! That made the whole book and more of that please!!

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkshares for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm not certain this book works as either a mystery or a horror story. While I can see what Hurtado is going for, exploring issues of belief and skepticism. Erasmo actually finds a decent balance between these two. He can keep a belief in the supernatural without following blindly while his friend follows stories whole-heartedly. My issue with the the plot on the whole is that it relies heavily on the physically horrific. We get an awful lot of disgusting detail: violence, gore, literal rot. It is, quite simply, gross more than it is frightening.
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I really enjoyed this. Reminded me in a lot of ways of Raymond Chandler, but for a contemporary youngsters of course. The way the protagonist has multiple cases to solve, one or two seemingly more “important” than another, only to discover that they’re all tied together in some way. 

The maturity of the tone and subject matter was also good. I admire that the author never felt like he was talking down to the reader. 

I the main characters and would love to read about their future adventures and investigations.
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The Ghost Tracks was more than I could have ever hoped for. It was spooky, and had twists around every corner that I didn’t see coming.
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I liked this book. However I did have some problems. The three cases Erasmo was investigating were very interesting, but I really hated their conclusions. The story would have been scarier if not for that.
Also, the romantic subplot felt really unnecessary.
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I was blown away by this twisty thriller from debut author Celso Hurtado.

After his grandmother receives a grim cancer diagnosis, seventeen-year-old Erasmo Cruz must find a way to earn money for her treatment. And fast. But Eramso, along with his down-on-his-luck friend Rat, get more than they bargained for after placing an ad as paranormal investigators on Craigslist.

The stakes are continuously raised as they encounter a man allegedly haunted by his deceased date, a young boy allegedly possessed by a flesh-eating demon, and a man claiming to have disturbing visions of the future. Not to mention that Erasmo must come to terms with his own brush with the supernatural. Was he really rescued by the spirits of the Ghost Tracks on that fateful night?

This gory and gruesome horror novel blurs the lines between perception and reality, and begs the question of just how far Erasmo is willing to go to help these disturbed individuals.

Erasmo Cruz is such an intelligent and likable protagonist. Although initially motivated by money, Erasmo continually puts his own life on the line in the name of family, friendship, and love. Readers realize that his no-bullshit exterior is not a matter of indifference, but rather of caring too much.

And Celso Hurtado writes with such a deft and knowing hand, especially when building feelings of dread throughout the text. Sometimes information that is withheld can be even more powerful than a grisly description.

This is highly recommended reading for genre fans.
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What I liked best about this book is that it’s got the perfect tone and pitch for a YA paranormal/ghost novel. I’m middle-aged now, but as I was reading I reflected back on my teenage years and how much I loved ghost, horror, and paranormal novels and this book would have fit perfectly among those books. It has spunk, an interesting premise, and a touch of both occultism and the phenomena of urban legends that I’ve always adored. 

One of the most interesting dichotomies in this book is how no main or supporting character in this book is reliable. We can’t even trust the tale of what the book’s protagonist, Erasmos, went through that has made him so notable in his hometown that gives birth to not only the book’s title but also lends him the authority to put the book’s plot into motion. And once that plot is put into motion, Erasmos and his best friend (and business partner), Rat, are suddenly sucked into what seems to be a never-ending series of events that take twists and turns over a series of months that only seem to become creepier and more violent as time goes on. And as events spiral downward, so does the physical and mental health of both Erasmos and Rat. 

There is a romantic subplot in the middle of the book that I felt would’ve done the book a world of good had it been left out or changed. It slowed the book down and lessened the nice tension and suspense that permeated the rest of the book. It would’ve made the book shorter, but I think the book would’ve been much better for it. 

All in all, it really is a great young adult ghost/paranormal story. If I were a teenager who devoured these sorts of books, I’d definitely pick it up.
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Do you know your local lore? Maybe there’s a house near yours that’s haunted, or maybe a friend of a friend swore that your school was built atop an old cemetery. For Erasmo, he knows that the local train tracks are haunted by the ghosts of children; having died in a horrific accident, they now lie in wait around the area, hoping to save others from the same fate.

Years ago, Erasmo was saved by those ghost children and now people think he’s been “touched”. He doesn’t know what to think, but now that his grandma has been diagnosed with cancer, he needs to start believing in the power of the supernatural quick. But his new career as a paranormal investigator is proving to be more dangerous than he thinks, and it’s not the ghosts he has to worry about.

Full disclosure: I am super into witchcraft and occult-related topics, so in reading this, I couldn’t help but nitpick at certain topics. That being said, most of the information provided in The Ghost Tracks was accurate and it’s clear Celso Hurtado did their research. I say “most” information because there is some discussion here about closed practices that I have no knowledge of, so I can’t verify the claims.

My main critique of this story is that despite its title and blurb, it’s not actually a ghost story. Hurtado constantly leads us down a path that seems paranormal at its core, only to pull back the curtain at the last moment and reveal there’s nothing lurking in the shadows. Even Erasmo flip flops on his own beliefs on whether there’s actually anything spooky in his town despite his job.

There’s nothing wrong with a horror story that isn’t centered around ghosts, of course, I have reviewed a couple of horror books this year that are about the evilness of humanity but I guess that the blurb had misled me and I found myself getting constantly frustrated with the book.

The premise of the book is exciting though and I love the idea of a paranormal investigation agency. What makes it all the better that Erasmo is not going in like your average horror movie protagonist, instead he’s armed to the teeth with knowledge about any and all entities. He can be a bit naive of course, but weren’t we all when we were 17?

The antagonists in the book are actually terrifying as well and I felt genuinely scared for Erasmo when he was in over his head. The villains really carried the novel with their warped perspectives of the world, and their crimes are enough to make anyone living along lock their doors.

Had the book actually been about ghosts and this 17 year old boy going about his town trying to exorcise them, I think I would enjoyed this book a lot more. But as it stands, I don’t think The Ghost Tracks is the one for me.
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Forget believing in fairies, The Ghost Tracks asks whether you believe in the paranormal. Do ghosts really exist? What about demonic possession? Join Erasmo and his friend Rat as they seek to find out for real, and get more than they bargained for… 

The Ghost Tracks is one of those books where you sit down to write about it, and end up scratching your head. To try to put this book into words is difficult, because it’s not a book, it’s an experience from start to finish. It reminds me of the TV show Preacher, where so many random things are happening all at once, many of which are so outlandish that a voice in the back of your mind is saying to you that this doesn’t work, it shouldn’t work. Yet somehow the chaos and the mayhem does work. The utter ridiculousness of the situation, bordering on slapstick comedy with a dangerous edge of reality.

When Erasmo Cruz and his buddy Rat decide to become paranormal investigators, they expected the rude responses to their Craigslist ad. They even expected to get some weird ones. They thought they were prepared for everything, and of course, when you think that you couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’m just going to say that Erasmo and Rat end up going down a dangerous rabbit hole that shows the darker side of their city.

For most of the novel, I thought I had found yet another magical realism novel parading as a paranormal (or fantasy) novel. Minor spoiler; The Ghost Tracks is the real deal. It’s one of those books that you need to stick with it all the way to the end, and you will not be disappointed. Along the way, Hurtado takes us on a journey of self-discovery that is unlike anything else you will find in a young adult novel. This isn’t a Bildungsroman because neither Erasmo nor Rat are children growing into young men; they have already been made to grow up too fast by events beyond their control.

These are two people who are trying to understand what has happened to them, and how they are supposed to deal with the hand they have been dealt in life. It’s something that people two/three times their age struggle with, and Hurtado doesn’t shy away from the issues. He faces it head on, and that is something that we need to see more of in young adult novels.

The Ghost Tracks is the perfect novel to crack open this Halloween. It’s full of mayhem, friendship, demons and ghosts. Are they real? You’ll just need to read and find out
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The Ghost Tracks by Celso Hurtado is described as a YA horror and suspense novel and has been compared to the Fear Street novels by Stine. It definitely made me think of those books, but this book is way more detailed in the horror department. I was surprised to see that some of the descriptions actually qualify as using adult instead of adult. I'm not complaining because it really conveyed that horror element that the story is going for. 

I believe the author did a good job of developing the characters. I genuinely liked the characters and the realism of the world building. I do believe that the overall narrative could have been better developed. The story was good but lacked a little depth, but it may be that the author wasn't going for depth and instead was just trying to tell a scary story. The pacing was pretty decent for me as well, so the story retained my interest throughout.
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3.5 stars.
This was very different than what I expected. Very different, and darker, more gory and frightening than I anticipated when I opened the book. The author deals with the pain and loss of children abandoned by their parents, of wanting to find a rewarding path in life, of confronting one’s fears, and mental health. 
In fact, most of the individuals in this gripping story of two seventeen-year old friends most would consider losers because of their family circumstances, and who decide to start a business helping people with their paranormal concerns, are examples of loneliness and some sort of mental health situation. 
The three inquiries the pair of friends receive all seem to fit the bill, but over several weeks, main character Erasmo and his best friend Rat discover some ugly things about the situations they’re called to help with. (On a side note, there are a few pretty horrible and deeply disturbing moments in the book as Erasmo digs deeper into the lives of the people in his investigations.)

I had figurative warning bells going off loudly with each bizarre case Erasmo investigated, and kept wondering how he wasn’t having the screaming meemies. So, I can attest that the author had me both turning pages quickly to find out what happened next, while making my skin crawl with the seriously scary people Erasmo was dealing with. 
This is primarily a story of a very lonely person and his equally lonely friend who are trying to find meaning and validation for themselves, making some pretty poor choices along the way and getting into bad places, physically and otherwise, consequently. It’s also a story with some hope in it, thank goodness, for its protagonist and his friend.
I should say also that this isn’t something I would normally read, but that I found compelling once I started.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Inkshares for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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I ended up DNFing this one at approx. 30%. 

The writing was very choppy and I had trouble following at times. This was the eARC, so it could have been edited more thoroughly by the final copy, however, what I read had a lot of issues with the writing. The pacing was all over the place, as I said it was hard to follow & at times it was straight up dull. 

I also really didn't like the MC and I don't believe that he was necessarily meant to be unlikable. He was irritating and the whole way he was running this paranormal detective business drove me insane. He knows the paranormal exists but then doesn't believe ANYONE that comes to him with problems they can't explain??

I loved the idea of this one but execution just wasn't there unfortunately.
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