Voices from Beyond (A Ghost Finders Novel)
by Simon R. Green
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425259948
Date: 26 August 2014 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
In Voices From Beyond, Simon R. Green continues the adventures of the Ghost Finders, a quartet of improbable heroes from the semi-secret Carnacki Institute, whose job is kicking ectoplasmic ass and taking names. The team includes the breezily arrogant leader JC Chance, tech maven Melody Chambers, perpetually depressed telepath Happy Jack Palmer, and "ghost girl" Kim Sterling, JC's girlfriend.
The tale begins with a seance that has gone horribly awry. Four young students are catatonic after opening a doorway to something from Outside, a Beast that wants to squeeze its way into our dimension for some fun and games (that is, an apocalypse that would give Lovecraft screaming night terrors). Working their mojo, the team confronts the Beast on his home ground and strikes a blow for terrestrial self-defense.
Then it's on to the main story, where they are sent to Radio Free Albion, a struggling station in the countryside. Babbling voices are passing along warnings of imminent doom, through the phone and even the radio broadcasts. Most of the staff has fled; only manager/former owner Jonathan Hardy, receptionist Sally Walsh, on-air personalities Felicity Legrand and Captain Sunshine, and self-trained engineer Tom Foreman remain. They're being tormented, in their own way, by these echoes of doom.
They aren't the only ones. Each of the Ghost Finders experiences a personal visitation like a preview of Hell. One by one, these visitations suggest, they will fight, they will fail, and they will be damned eternally as Earth suffers the catastrophic effects of their failure. JC's vision leaves him uncharacteristically afraid, with even his newfound golden-glowing eyes unable to penetrate this mystery. Happy Jack's powers seem to be nullified--as if their enemy is hiding--and Melody's machines report nothing unusual. At all. Which by itself seems impossible.
Shaken to their cores, the team must find enough inner resolve to figure out the nature of their enemy. Because, if the latest visitation is right, they have less than twenty four hours to stop the end of all life on Earth.
Just another day on the job? Well... even for the Ghost Finders, this will be one for the record books.
Green ups the stakes considerably in this volume, spelling out the consequences very early on. Rarely has the team been on this tight a deadline, with the peril escalating by the hour. He puts his team through a more harrowing emotional wringer than any they've yet faced, in which the danger is far more personal and specific than it's been in the past. Each of them faces something born out of their own nightmares; it is a singular test of their courage to continue in the face of absolute damnation.
This is what heroism is all about: the ability to forge ahead, regardless of the personal risk. Happy Jack pushes himself beyond his limits; the consequences of what he does, in particular, will surely be felt in future installments, as will a new trick JC and Kim develop to be used in case of emergency.
The final enemy, and the mechanism by which it manifests, is held until very, very late in the game. Readers may feel that there is a lot of build up to an extremely fast conclusion, but that's the nature of Green's narratives for the Ghost Finders novels; they are a rollercoaster ride with mounting stakes until an all-or-nothing climax.
The supporting cast is an assortment of folks with nowhere else to go, hanging on because it means a steppingstone to future glory (in one case) or the last chance to salvage a career or self-respect. The personal stakes for them become apparent when it is made clear, well into the story, that they cannot just cut and run--the portents they've experienced have marked them and will go wherever they do. Unless the Ghost Finders can end this, here and now, there's no escape for anyone at that station. Building that sense of mountintg dread and inescapable fate is something Green does particularly well in this story, never letting up on the pressure despite moments of levity or false hope.
The Ghost Finders may have encountered a Waterloo moment here. It will be interesting to see where and how they pick up the pieces, as the lingering effects of this story will not fade away soon.