Book Review: The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark

The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark (goodreads page)
Published: 2019
Genre, sub-genre: Horror: paranormal
Pages: 346

Notable aspects: –
Warnings: mild gore

1 minute summary
Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. His plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear.

My rating: 4/5
1 sentence review: laced with truly terrifying moments, this mysterious and action-packed ghost story is an excellent read for any fan of paranormal horror.

Pros: terrific moments of terror, non-stop action and a good amount of mystery.
Cons: some of the revelation tactics used to untangle the haunting didn’t work for me.

Good for readers who: enjoy a scary story without much gore, enjoy lots of action and mystery.
Not so great for readers who: prefer a straightforward ghost story, atmospheric creepiness or stories to unravel in a slow build-up.

Pro: genuinely terrifying moments. Let’s get to the good stuff first. The measure of any good ghost story is its ability to scare the pants off of you, and The Patience of a Dead Man not only scares your pants off, it takes them and runs off into the darkness. You now have no pants. You are pants-less, and will remain that way for good portions of this novel. I have some heart and breathing issues, and I genuinely had to stop at certain points for my own health. Don’t read this at night in bed.

Pro: non-stop action. There’s not a lot of buildup in this book. If you came for the ghosts, well, it delivers almost immediately—and it keeps going. There’s always something happening in this novel, and the story moves ahead at a fast clip. Some readers may prefer more slow, atmospheric creepiness to their scares, so a point of note: this is not that kind of book. But it’s great for those who like the ball to get rolling immediately so they can hang on for the break-neck ride to the bottom. The fast pace itself does serve a good purpose: it creates a situation that’s full of tension and claustrophobia, never allowing the characters (and by extension the readers) time to recover from the creepiness.

Pro: great mystery for a haunted house story. One of the more difficult things about the haunted house plot is that it’s so well-worn that it’s blatantly predictable. Certainly there are aspects of this book that are par for the Haunted House course. But it’s also full of interesting twists—moments where the reader will say, “…..wait…” There are many interesting mysteries to untangle in this book; it’s not just a one-note “who is this ghost and how did they die” story. I enjoyed the heft of a complex mystery in what’s often a thin trope-y genre.

Con: I didn’t prefer some of the revelation tactics. The hardest part of any haunted house story is how to reveal the mystery of the haunting in an organic, new or believable way. I don’t envy the writer who needs to do this, because basically every option is kind of hokey. I didn’t prefer some of the ideas used in The Patience of a Dead Man, but this is a highly personal preference (and thus a small personal ‘con.’) I feel like I can’t subjectively find any fault with it, nor do I think it takes away from the overall quality of the book. I think it’s in keeping with the story’s pace and the breadth of the mystery.

Overall: The Patience of a Dead Man is an excellent, non-stop ghost story full of creepiness and intense scares. Self-published author Michael Clark is one to watch for all your literary Halloween needs.

3 Comments on “Book Review: The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark

  1. I do love me a good atmospheric, slow burn creepy ghost story, but we gel so much with the books we like that I trust you on this, I’m gonna give this a go.

    • Hmm. So, I’m going to be honest and say that while I enjoyed this book, I don’t really know that it would mesh well with what I know about your tastes. But I’m not familiar with your preferences when it comes to paranormal horror, or your tolerance for its tropey-ness. (It’s the most tropey genre out there, I swear.) As I mentioned, I didn’t care for some of the ways the story chose to unfold, and I know you’re big on plot points. But I think if you’re not expecting a masterclass in scares, and are ok with tropes, this is a good one.

      • Hmm, well contrary to appearances my standards aren’t actually all that high when it comes to enjoying a story haha. I don’t mind an over saturation of tropes as long as it’s written decently well and is entertaining. I’ll still give it a go and even if it’s a sort of three star read for me I’d still consider it worthwhile. I’m still not all that sure about my own preferences for horror cos I’m actually still fairly new to it as a genre, I’m still finding my feet so more than happy to try out different styles.

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