“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us and sometimes, they win.”– Stephen King
Those are just a few adjectives that come to mind when referring to Ghost, Ashleigh Zavarelli ‘s latest addition to the Boston Underworld mafia series. Make no mistake about it: this novel will seize your emotions from the first few pages and it will not let them go until Ghost comes to its riveting, satisfying conclusion.
Ghost is the story of Alexei, a member of the Russian Mafia and Talia, a young woman with a tragic past who is double-crossed and betrayed by a monster who she thought had her best interests at heart. This betrayal serves as the cornerstone of Alexei and Talia’s journey. It is one that is filled with love, sacrifice, suspense and redemption that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last word of the epilogue.
The prologue is dark and gritty. It triggered a no-holds-barred reaction that held me hostage. Honestly, the subject matter haunted me and had my mind in an uproar; I was obsessed, even in my sleep to the point that I had dreams about the events in this book. This is a true testament to the author’s talent and capability as a storyteller. Ms. Zavarelli weaves a tapestry composed of fascinating characters, sensual scenes, suspenseful elements and descriptive words that reeled me in, grabbed a piece of my heart and refused to let go.
My feelings remained in a tizzy for the duration of the novel.
I felt so many emotions while reading Ghost. They ran the gamut from violent anger, incredible bitterness, and outright incredulity. There was also sadness that brought me to literal tears and schadenfreude when the wrongdoers received their just desserts. Last but certainly not least was love. YES I fell in love with both Alexei, the hero and the novel’s heroine, Talia. The heartfelt affection and warmth that I felt for these characters truly resonated with me from from the beginning of the novel to its gratifying, emotionally fulfilling epilogue.
Now, let’s get to the “nitty gritty” so to speak.
In the first chapters we learn many facts about the hero, Alexei. Of course he is tall, handsome and sexy. It goes without saying that he would also be an alpha male, dominate, loyal and strong. Interestingly, he is also quite intelligent and calculating. He expertly plays chess and dominates his opponents while doing so. Gambit is defined as a “planned series of moves at the beginning of a game of chess: something done or said in order to gain an advantage.” This fact is key to Ghost’s plot. More on that later.
In the first few chapters, Ms. Zavarelli also reveals that Alexei has a secret.
I was determined to ferret it out…and when that secret was revealed, it set me on fire!
Then there is Talia, the broken, damaged young heroine at the center of Ghost. Everything about her draws in the reader. Not only is she beautiful, but she is inherently good in spite of the dirtiness that she has been exposed to via the betrayal of someone that she held dear. The emotional struggle that she endures and the effort that she displays to cleanse the physical and mental wounds that she experiences are at the forefront of this harrowing tale of survival. We soon discover that although she is wounded her brave, resilient spirit can not and will not be defeated. Ultimately, Alexei is the ultimate remedy for each and every one of her ailments.
Now we should talk about genius, because this novel is just that: a rare spectacle of genius that I could never hope to encompass within the scope of this review. The theme surrounding “Ghost” and all that the word “ghost” entails permeates the book with an underscored meaning that I cannot attempt to depict with a few words.
Here are a few examples of quotes directly taken from Talia’s point of view that demonstrate how well Zavarelli manages to reinforce the meaning of the word “ghost” while directly applying it to the heart of the story:
“I’m like an apparition in this house. Moving around unseen.”
“A ghost of a smile appears on his face, and he shrugs.”
“I want to know the ghosts of his past, the things that haunt him.”
“I was supposed to die in that bathtub twelve years ago. And I did. Only my body came back to life. What remains now is only an apparition.”
While you let that marinate, let’s change the subject for a minute. Remember, Alexei plays chess with a mastery and level of expertise that no one else in the book is able to maintain. From the very beginning, I was enthralled by this concept and how it applies to the chapters in Ghost, its characters and the events that surround the novel as a whole. When I finally absorbed the significance of the theme surrounding the word ‘Ghost’ I.was.blown.AWAY!
In addition, Ghost is told from a dual point of view. We hear from Talia and Alexei as well. Talia’s chapters are signified by a Black pair of broken wings. To me, the metaphorical meaning surrounding her odyssey and the broken wings was self-explanatory. Alexei’s chapters are designated by a knight, a key chess piece on the chessboard. If you play chess, please ruminate on that. I won’t ruin the experience by elaborating further.
Another important facet to Ghost’s appeal is the character development. The reader witnesses Talia as she morphs from a victimized young lady who has endured unspeakable atrocities with zero semblance of self worth into a delightful, exuberant young woman worthy of possessing the title, position and power of Alexei’s queen in both a literal and figurative sense. The reader also witnesses Alexei’s transition from an insecure computer prodigy who fearfully sequesters himself from the Mafia world to keep his secret into a poised, self-assured hailstorm who is determined to secure the longevity of his family’s future.
Will Alexei and Talia be victorious in their war with Ghosts? One click now and embark on an incredible, unforgettable journey that will leave you breathless and yearning for more. I can confidently state that you won’t be disappointed in the outcome of this five-star read.
I have always been a bird. Caged by one prison or another when the only thing I ever wanted was to fly away.
Sold. Beaten. Starved. Drugged.
Nothing scares me anymore.
He makes the numbness go away.
He is hazardous to me. It has nothing to do with his mafia lifestyle, and everything to do with what he offers.
A gilded prison.
A retreat from everything that I once knew. The reality I have no desire to return to.
He thinks he’s caged me, but soon…
I’m going to fly.
I live by a code. The Vory code.
In this mafiya world, there are traditions.
She does not care for these things. She does not care about anything.
She thinks she has me fooled with her haunted eyes.
What she can’t know is that I see her better than most.
She wants to fly.
But I’m going to clip her wings.
And make her my wife.
Add Ghost to your TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30795672-ghost