If I Stopped Haunting You

St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781250292902. pap. $18. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
DEBUT Penelope Skinner and Neil Storm, both Indigenous American authors, had an argument at a very public, crowded event. In the months since, both have had writers block, and Penelope’s reputation is heavily tarnished. When a mutual friend invites them both to a writing retreat at a haunted Scottish castle, they each accept, unaware the other is attending. They’re both horror writers, but neither Penelope nor Neil believes in ghosts. When strange noises start, they look for logical reasons, and when the odor of decay and rot permeates the air, they assume it’s coming from outside. When terrifying visions appear, however, they decide to stick together to watch each other’s backs. As the eeriness increases, their chemistry becomes unbearable. Trapped in a haunted castle while afraid for their safety is not the time to fall in love, but as they work together to solve their ghostly mystery, that’s exactly what happens. The ghost encounters are spooky and, along with the worldbuilding, create a perfectly gloomy, creepy atmosphere.
VERDICT This forced-proximity, enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy has plenty of chills and thrills. Readers will stay up late, with all the lights on, to finish Wilkens’s satisfying debut.
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