'The Haunted Florida' series proves Florida ghost stories>Florida man stories
I love a good ghost story…who doesn’t? There’s just something about them…people want to know if there’s an afterlife, if somehow, they’ll exist after they die.
The problem is I’ve run into a lot of ghost stories that just don’t have a good payoff, like the authors almost back out of making an ending that really makes sense.
That’s not a problem with author Gaby Triana’s “Haunted Florida” series. Published in 2018, the three books in the series are really well-done and have good payoffs to wrap up the stories for the readers.
Although it’s a series, all three books are independent of each other, which is good. You can read one or all of them in any order and its fine.
Triana excels in writing strong female characters – all the protagonists in the three books – are strong women, written well and are good characters. Triana is also good at melding the human drama with the spirit world, telling fantastic stories.
Book 1 of the series, “Island of Bones,” features Ellie Whitaker who flies from her hometown of Boston (Go Sox!) to Key West to spread her grandmother’s ashes. Her grandmother had left Key West for less than happy reasons, and there is a mystery involving Ellie’s grandfather’s death.
As it commonly happens in Florida, a hurricane is approaching. Ellie is stuck at a creepy hotel that appears to be cursed. The innkeeper seems…unpleasant. And there are ghosts. Many ghosts, and a pretty damn cool cat.
Book 2 is "River of Ghosts," which was my favorite book of the series. Avila Cypress is a fantastic lead character and it takes place in the Everglades, one of two places I would want to visit in Florida even though I hate the heat, humidity and mosquitoes.
Avila is an air boat guide who is approached by producers of a ghost hunting show to lead them and the cast and crew to a little known, but supposedly haunted, house in the middle of the Everglades, a place where Avila is banned from going by her tribal leader.
As the crew arrives to the house, where Avila’s grandfather and several others died in an apparent murder years before she was born, things begin to happen quickly. Both the show’s medium and Avila can feel spirits in the abandoned home.
The crew begins to get affected by the spirits, everyone’s mood is deteriorating. The host is obsessed and seems to be unhinged. Avila has to navigate that as well as the spirits and the encroaching wildlife as they’re trapped without a way out. Will she be able to figure things out in time to save herself? You’ll need to read to see.
In Book 3 of the series, “City of Spells,” Queylin Sanchez’s life changes when an older fellow walks into her newly opened shop of everything mystical to seek someone to go to his home to cleanse the house of ghosts.
Queylin and one of her employees decide to go. This turned out not to be the best of ideas. The house is definitely haunted by several ghosts. The host and his wife also have a secret, one that could be potentially tragic for Queylin.
The culmination of the story, the last act if you will, is probably the strongest of the three books, a great mix of the human and spirit world into a strong ending for the entire series.
Haunted Florida series
Island of Bones, (210 pages) River of Ghosts (226 pages) City of Spells (223 pages)
Gaby Triana Independently Published (2018)