Book Reviews: Only Ghouls and Horses + Just a Wild Ghost Chase by Dan Harris

book reviews only ghouls and horses just a wild ghost chase dan harris

Dan Harris was kind enough to send me copies of both of these novels, the first two books in his Unit 13 series, so of course I have to review them together. It only makes sense, right? I adore ghosts, but ghost stories tend to be too scary for me. Fortunately, the descriptions of these books were so much fun to read and really hinted at a lot of humor and fun in this series, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, because ghost stories with humor is what I love best when it comes to ghosts.

Only Ghouls and Horses by Dan Harris

only ghouls and horses dan harris

Title: Only Ghouls and Horses (Unit 13 #1) / Author: Dan Harris / Publisher: Self-published / Publication date: April 29, 2022 / Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description and purchase link(s)

One Sentence Summary: When Tom witnesses a supernatural murder, he’s recruited to work for Unit 13, which handles paranormal occurrences, and finds himself dealing with witches and ghosts.

My thoughts:

Only Ghouls and Horses is the first in the Unit 13 series about a secret organization that handles paranormal events in the UK. This is a short and fast-paced read so the first book gave me the odd sensation of both finishing the story while a broader one only just barely felt introduced. It kind of felt like part of the story was chopped out, but the main story line in this one was neatly wrapped up. This was a fun, humorous read that did become a bit scary for me towards the end, but I scare easily so that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Only Ghouls and Horses opens with Tom accompanying a friend to a seedy house. Unfortunate events transpire, but, on the plus side, Tom is basically offered a job and, considering he’s currently unemployed, he may as well take it no matter how weird it is. Thus begins his time working with Unit 13, combing through information and either sending it to local law enforcement or whoever deals with the paranormal. Everything is just fine, until Tom is called to go into the field, quickly bringing him into ghost sightings and a potential witch situation.

This was really a very fun book. It’s quite short, but it doesn’t skimp on the background, story, or world building. The characters felt more like caricatures of actual people, but I just loved Tom. He’s so nondescript in every way, just wanting to keep his head down and do his desk job well enough to keep his job. It was fun watching him be catapulted into a field position he didn’t want, dealing with creatures he didn’t want to. But the people around him weren’t exactly brimming with unique personalities. The field agents were a bit nutty, his fellow office workers were a bit strange but generally not much different from Tom, and his boss was kind of odd yet efficient. Then there’s Sam and Martha, both of whom Tom meets while out in the field and both of whom have something to do with the larger story. It was a little weird to suddenly get parts of the book from their perspectives, but I found them to be quite entertaining.

Only Ghouls and Horses involves the paranormal. It’s woven into the fabric of reality, and how it’s handled to the public is quite amusing, if unimaginative, and I liked how the story poked fun at it. As a matter of fact, not much in this book took itself seriously, so it was quite a lot of fun to read. I really enjoyed the ghostly parts, though the last ghostly encounter freaked me out a little. Considering the first two books in this series involve ghosts, the witch part felt kind of out of place, especially when that story line started to develop away from Tom. But I really liked how the paranormal is basically hiding in plain sight. I didn’t get a strong sense of the setting, but did find myself amused by the description of Tom’s work environment.

This book is definitely short enough to be read in a single sitting. It’s fast-paced and the humor keeps things interesting. It’s fun and quick, but has some good meat on it. It does tend to feel like a series of events that happen to Tom, so it took a while for me to figure out where the story was going, and that only really felt clarified once I started reading the second book. This one is a good introduction to the characters, world, and story, offering enough to intrigue the reader and wonder where it could be going next.

Only Ghouls and Horses is definitely a fun read. I didn’t feel that much of it was meant to be taken seriously, so I was surprised by how freaked out the last ghost made me, but it takes extremely little to scare me. In some ways this felt more like the first half of a book, but it did wrap up its main story line while also keeping it wide open. This was a great book to get acquainted with Tom and his work.

My rating: 3 cups of tea

Thank you to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Just a Wild Ghost Chase by Dan Harris

just a wild ghost chase dan harris

Title: Just a Wild Ghost Chase (Unit 13 #2) / Author: Dan Harris / Publisher: Self-published / Publication date: October 25, 2022 / Genre: Urban Fantasy

Description and purchase link(s)

One Sentence Summary: Tom’s work in the field is just starting since his boss insists on sending him out to investigate yet more ghostly encounters, and Tom can’t wait for the person who normally handles the ghosts to return to work.

My thoughts:

Just A Wild Ghost Chase was kindly sent along with the first book by the author. After reading the first book, I was thrilled. I loved the humor and how much fun I had reading it, so I wasted no time jumping into the second book. This proved to be just as much fun, even if it did feel more like the second half to the first book. It quickly picked up about where the first book ended and followed the story line through to an end, tying witches and ghosts together in a way I was not expecting.

Just a Wild Ghost Chase follows Tom and Martha as they appear to be working in parallel without even knowing it. There’s something strange going on as there have been more actual ghost sightings than normal, and Martha suspects something witchy going on. On the other hand, Tom just wants to do his job and get home at the end of the day so takes it ghost by ghost. Something is brewing, though, and there might be even more on the horizon.

I love ghosts, but stories with ghosts tend to scare me. I wouldn’t say this one terrified me as this isn’t horror, but it did feel a lot more serious and had more scenes with ghosts that freaked me out, though it did ease up and pepper in the humor when it started to feel a little too scary for me. I liked how it managed to continue to be humorous, thanks largely to Tom. He isn’t exactly the brightest bulb, but he does try to do his job as best he can, no matter how reluctant. I liked how he was just left on his own in this one, but, as much as he didn’t want to do it, not much actually fazed him. I admire him for keeping as cool as he did in the face of some restless ghosts. Martha opened up another part of the story, so her perspective made a lot more sense in this one. I liked how their perspectives switched a lot better and a lot earlier, so it was easier for me to start to catch on to what was going on.

Unlike the first book, Just a Wild Ghost Chase felt more like it was dedicated to the storytelling. Now that the world and characters and how everything functions has been introduced, I felt the story could really get going in earnest. It was interesting following Tom and Martha as they worked separately. There were so many times when I thought things might happen one way, making it a bit predictable, so I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t go the way I thought, and I much preferred the way it was done. Even though it kept the characters from really meeting, it kept the story lines going and kept me wondering how it was going to end.

Just a Wild Ghost Chase is just as fast and quick as the first book, so it’s also possible to read this one in a single sitting, too. The humor keeps things interesting, and Tom really is the best character to pull off this story. Despite having his doubts about his abilities, he felt surprisingly capable, and it’s his reluctance to step outside of his comfort zone that really captured my interest. I, for one, would have turned and fled from all the ghosts, but Tom kept a cool head, dealing with it with efficiency, ensuring I felt like I was in safe hands with him. I also liked how the witchy part of the first book was brought into this one. It made a lot more sense, so it was actually fun to follow Martha around. Her perspective finally made sense, though I do wish it had been introduced sooner in the first book.

Overall, Just a Wild Ghost Chase was a little more serious than the first book, packing in more of the story, but it retained it’s fun and humor. It was nice to see more of the characters from the first book, and get a hint of what might be to come. Tom just can never catch a break, making this all the more fun. Really, it’s Tom who makes these books. He’s just such a great character to follow and I thought his characterization was impeccable.

My rating: 5 cups of tea

Thank you to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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