Book Review: The Legend of Rachel Petersen by J. T. Baroni

  • Title: The Legend of Rachel Petersen
  • Author: J. T. Baroni
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Horror, Paranormal
  • Would I recommend: If you want a quick, spooky read, give this one a try!


Did his book raise the dead?

Outraged when the Post Gazette overlooks him for a well-deserved promotion, 43-year-old Sports Writer Christian Kane quits the paper and moves to the country to write fiction.

Inspiration flows from a lone grave he stumbles upon in the woods. He compiles “The Legend of Rachel Petersen,” a fascinating story revolving around the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly becomes a bestseller; then Hollywood turns it into a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous. But does an enraged Rachel become more than a figment of the writer’s imagination? Does she rise from her grave to seek revenge on Kane for slandering her name?

My review:

Christian Kane is a sports writer. He and his wife are getting ready to attend a banquet at which he expects to receive a big promotion. When the promotion goes to someone else, Kane rage quits his job, and he and his wife move to a fixer-upper house out in the country. He plans to become a writer.

At first he struggles, and when he asks his wife to read his first efforts with a critical eye, she literally laughs at him. So it’s back to the drawing board for Kane. And then he finds an old grave on their property, and inspiration strikes. The tombstone bears the name of Rachel Petersen, who was just 12 when she died. Kane decides that his book will tell her story.

J. T. Baroni uses the story within a story technique very skillfully. Rachel’s legend flows so smoothly, after Kane’s lackluster original efforts to write and as compared to the initial section about Kane’s life, that it could seem almost supernaturally inspired. (Was that by design? Only the author knows!) The fictional legend moves back and forth between the Civil War era and the 1950s, and characters in both eras appear realistic to the times in which they lived.

The Yoder brothers, in Rachel’s fictional legend, are probably some of my favorite characters in the story. They rib each other, as teenage boys do, and Thad’s sense of adventure and derring-do is what leads him to unearth Rachel’s bones (and maybe regret his life choices). The events that follow after that will have you holding your breath to see what happens next.

Rachel’s story has some elements of horror, but I consider her to be more of a paranormal character than a horror figure. The real monsters in the story are humans. I’ll let you read to find out who those may be.

After Kane’s story of Rachel becomes a success beyond his wildest imagining, we see another snippet of his life. And I’ll tell ya, if any of you are old enough to know what this means, part of it gave me bad, bad flashbacks to a certain season of a certain nighttime soap opera from years past. I turned to my husband and said, “Oh, he did not do this in this book!” But that wasn’t the end, and the end redeemed that one little part. You’re left questioning what’s real and what isn’t, and what might happen after the last page is turned. Does Rachel come to wreak her revenge? You’re going to have to read the book to find out.

I’d recommend this for fans of paranormal and horror who are looking for an atmospheric read for a gloomy fall or winter day. Read with the lights on.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the author for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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