Wide Open – Deborah Coates

About the book
When Sergeant HallieMichaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days’ compassionateleave, her sister Dell’s ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell’s death was suicide,but Hallie doesn’t believe it. Something happened or Dell’s ghost wouldn’tstill be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell’s loss, thinkHallie’s letting her grief interfere with her judgment.  

The one person who seems willing to listen isthe deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when hedoesn’t have to.  

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts newghosts, women who disappeared without a trace.  Soon, someone’s trying tobeat her up, burn down her father’s ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie’s going to need Boyd, her friends, andall the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancientpower at his command.

304pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: March 13, 2012
Publishedby: Tor
This book was sent as a review copy by Tor.
Everytime I feel like I’m about ready to write off all urban fantasy and never againventure into that sub genre, I read a book that makes me rethink myself. Thistime the book that made me rethink my desire to never again read anything urbanfantasy was Wide Open. While it’sbilled as urban fantasy, it ended up being absolutely nothing I was expectingit to be which really worked in the book’s favor.
Iexpected Wide Open to be the typicalgirl-meets-mysterious-paranormal-guy type story with ghosts thrown in, but it’sreally none of that. While there is romance, it takes the back burner to theplot. Actually, not even the back burner. The romance seems to flit through thebook and while it takes place, it’s easy to gloss over and not essential to theplot itself. It’s more like a fine spice. It adds flavor to the story, but notenough to become overbearing. That’s exactly how romance in a book should be.
Coateschooses to set Wide Open in the vastopen spaces of South Dakota. The setting itself is genius and Coates use of itis nothing short of amazing. The first thing I should point out is that I doubtI’ve read any other books that take place in South Dakota. It’s not a placemost people think of setting a book. That makes it rather unique andunique is always eye catching. Secondly, Coates has a wonderful ability tobring South Dakota to life. The countryside is vast and open as only the plains can be, and this seems tocontribute to the stark and lonely feeling that hangs like a pall over the maincharacter. The atmosphere is dark, and that’s fitting seeing as how theprotagonist’s sister just died.
Perhapsit was the setting that I enjoyed most from WideOpen. Coates had a way with transporting the reader to South Dakota. Thearea is exactly what is needed for the type of story being told. The land isvast and sprawling with lots of open spaces, which add to the feeling ofaloneness. The land itself seems to symbolize Hallie’s own inner struggleagainst the general consensus of what happened to her sister. I honestly don’tthink the book would have been nearly as good if Coates had put it in New YorkCity or somewhere like that. The plot relies on the area and Coates is a masterat weaving both plot and area together to create something that is really atmospheric and remarkable.
Whilethe plot isn’t incredibly new and unique, Coates ability to tell her tale iswhat makes it shine. Her writing is fluid, and eerie enough to really make thisghost story stand out. She’s incredibly atmospheric and events transpire at arapid pace which makes this quite a page turner and it’s fairly short length makes this a quick read. However, the antagonist, whenput in contrast with the rest of the book, was a bit cookie cutter. PerhapsI’m just a bit too exhausted with the person who does unspeakable evils toattain some illustrious goal.
Thecharacterization, especially with Hallie, really shines. While other charactersaren’t quite as well cut as her, it’s to be expected. This is primarilyHallie’s story. Perhaps where characterization lacks is with the secondarycharacters that seem to enter and exit the story occasionally without any solid reasons.While many are excused as Hallie’s former acquaintances, their reasons forbeing in the book seem rather paltry and, occasionally, jarring and abrupt.Furthermore, some of the dialogue, especially with the Sheriff, seemed uncomfortable.
Wide Open isn’t what you’d expect froman urban fantasy. While this is the first book in a series, it is nicelyself-contained with no cliffhanger ending to annoy readers. Coates reallybrings South Dakota to life, and uses the plains as an important story tellinginstrument. Her writing is lyrical and incredibly atmospheric. If, occasionally,the characterization lacks or the dialogue is slightly stilted, it’s easilyoverlooked. Wide Open is an incrediblysolid, fast paced book that is a welcome step away from typical. Coates is an authorworth keeping an eye on.


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