THE LOST BOYS OF BARLOWE THEATER by Jaime Jo Wright
GENRE: Dual Timeline Suspense/Thriller (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2023
It promises beauty but steals life instead. Will the ghosts of Barlowe Theater entomb them all?
Barlowe Theater stole the life of Greta Mercy’s eldest brother during its construction. Now in 1915, the completed theater appears every bit as deadly. When Greta’s younger brother goes missing after breaking into the building, Greta engages the assistance of a local police officer to help her unveil the already ghostly secrets of the theater. But when help comes from an unlikely source, Greta decides that to save her family she must uncover the evil that haunts the theater and put its threat to rest.
Decades later, Kit Boyd’s best friend vanishes during a ghost walk at the Barlowe Theater, and old stories of mysterious disappearances and ghoulish happenings are revived. Then television ghost-hunting host and skeptic Evan Fisher joins Kit in the quest to identify the truth behind the theater’s history. Kit reluctantly agrees to work with him in hopes of finding her missing friend. As the theater’s curse unravels Kit’s life, she is determined to put an end to the evil that has marked the theater and their hometown for the last century.
“Death stuck with a place.”
Ahhhhh…. just reading that first line of the contemporary timeline again makes me want to dive back into this story, never mind that I just finished it. I’m always up for a creepy-good ghost story, and Jaime Jo Wright always delivers … all while keeping the explanations true to Scripture and Scooby-Doo. You’d think that knowing there’s always a reasonable explanation would keep me from fully embracing the as-yet-unexplained in her stories, but the opposite actually happens. I jump in completely, trying to figure out the non-paranormal reality of things, and I NEVER DO lol. This author is so masterfully talented at crafting a twisty plot that keeps me hanging on every word and always … always … takes me by surprise.
But let’s get back to her latest novel, The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater. The Barlowe Theater reminded me of an old theater in my Northern Illinois hometown, so I could easily picture the scenes there as though I was sitting in the audience or traipsing around the theater with the characters. It really is its own character, in both timelines, and I loved the atmospheric vibes it gave the story. The 1915 timeline happened to be my favorite this time (it changes, depending on the book), but I was also engrossed in the present day plot and – particularly – in how the two would tie together. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I missed a significant clue to that regard, one that should have been obvious but for the author’s clever art of misdirection. Just as well, though, because I got to experience all the feels of the ‘aha’ moment when it all clicks together.
Greta, our 1915 heroine, drew me in right from the beginning – her tragic situation filling my heart with the compassion of shared grief and what she saw (or didn’t) in the theater immersing me instantly in the possibilities. Through her part of the story, we also get a peek at the poor houses, the stigmas, and the corruption of the era. And Oscar… oh blissful sigh. I loved Oscar. His steady support of and clear affection for Greta had me swooning on her behalf more than once. But who IS the ‘woman in white’ that Greta saw? WHERE are the ‘lost boys’ who disappeared inside the theater one night and still haven’t come out? I knew… I KNEW … there would be a non-supernatural explanation of some sort behind these terrifying events but I had no idea what it would be. And oh, it’s so layered! I can’t wait for you to discover it for yourself.
Kit, our present day heroine, also has several intriguing layers that piqued my interest – from her work at the food pantry to her adoption story (and the residual effects that still haunt her). And I loved that a ghost hunt show is featured in a Christian fiction novel, specifically because of the faith discussions it triggers between the characters and how the author frames it. So often, Christian fiction avoid topics like this because it gets murky and fine lines get finer and feathers get ruffled. But it needs to be brought into the light and addressed against the backdrop of Scripture, and Wright does a great job doing so. I was on pins and needles as they searched for Kit’s missing best friend. Evan, the skeptic on the show, didn’t grow on me right away (I imagine this was intentional), but I came to really love him in the end. And Corey – what a great character!! I wanted to hug him more than once.
Bottom Line: A ‘cursed’ theater. A mysterious, ghostly woman in white. Missing boys in the past. A missing young woman in the present. A ghost hunt show. Each of these deliciously creepy elements awaits you on the pages of Jaime Jo Wright’s newest gothic dual timeline thriller, The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater. Also waiting for you is a solid but gentle faith thread that points you to Scripture, sorts the truth from mental lies, and reminds you that God will never abandon you. The story takes readers on a twisty thrill ride that keeps the goosebumps high as it races toward a solid finish, one where all the pieces fit into place even as you think there’s no way they can. Nobody writes Gothic thrillers like Jaime Jo Wright, and this latest novel is a prime example!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 2 / warm rosy glow of sweetness
Jaime Jo Wright, multi award-winning author–including the Christy and Daphne du Maurier awards–is a coffee-fueled and cat-fancier extraordinaire. She has entwined her life with the legendary Captain Hook, residing serenely in Wisconsin’s rural woodlands. Her literary vocation involves penning chilling Gothic tales, a baffling change from that of Austenites, with a strong preference to the master of dark, Edgar Allan Poe. Two mischievous urchins adorn their family, who keep their mother on her toes – providing an exhilarating amount chaos.
Other Recently Featured Books by Jaime Jo Wright
Bethany House is offering a print copy of The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater by Jaime Jo Wright to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater by Jaime Jo Wright?