Ever since her grandmother died, Samantha Davidson has been carrying a secret: She can hear voices–other people’s thoughts, some from the living, some from the dead.
Plucked from her roots and transported to another country, estranged from her family and friends, Sam joins a pioneering club in her new school that investigates paranormal activities.
As they examine the mystery behind a haunted theater inside the university, Sam starts to hear voices from those that are no longer earthbound.
Will she heed their voices as they accuse her of a dark secret she has buried deep in the past? Or will she surrender to the light offered by newfound allies and a love that caught her by surprise?
Will the many voices drown out the one voice she has long suppressed? Will she listen?
If I’m to be objective, there is nothing wrong with A.S. Santos’s Voices in the Theater. The plot is good and well-paced, and although some decisions made by the characters make me want to tear my hair out, I understand their choices are organic and not pushed by the hand of the author. There is really nothing bad to be said about the book–
But I still didn’t like it.
Here’s the thing: Voices in the Theater is marketed to be a horror novel. From its back synopsis, to its book cover, to the first few chapters– The story is clearly set-up to be a horror novel that deals with ghosts and unresolved issues. And I was fully on board with that. What I didn’t like was the sudden turn for the religious.
I mean, I completely understand having religious characters. The setting is the Philippines, characters are bound to be non-practicing Christians at the very least. And you can’t really take out religion when you’re dealing with ghosts and the afterlife. They come hand in hand.
Still, the book presents the main character as religiously neutral. Our entry point into the supernatural is science-based. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t. And I felt like the story, and the writer, forced the main character into a religion by the end of the book.
The thing is: I would totally understand the religious deus ex machina had there been more visual cues from the way the book was published or presented. Going back to what happens in the story, there’s really nothing there that explicitly says the book wasn’t going to go the religious note. And aside from the first few chapters that established the back story of main character Samantha, the rest of the book does establish the necessity of faith.
But the turn to the religion still threw me off.
It could just be my fault for expecting something else. For wanting something else. It’s just… I’m not the book’s target market. And I wish I knew this fact before I bought the book. Or, at the very least, I wish I had a warning before I delved into the book expecting a horror story. That could have spelled the difference in how I received the novel after finishing it.