BY YOUR SIDE:A Paranormal Mystery
Phil Giunta
Raging Seas Press (July 22, 2024)
Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

This is a book all about unfinished business wrapped in a complex ghost story.

It begins by introducing a team of ghost hunters. Oh, don’t roll your eyes and mutter, “Oh, God, not another ghost hunter story.” It is so much more than that! You really need to read this one. The team leader, Miranda, is a real deal psychic, not one of these “Did you feel that?” “Did you hear that?” on camera, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing types. Her visions are germane and move the story along, scary as they are.

Then there’s Matt, a young boy dying of a brain tumor, who is able to predict suicides, but most of the time, too late for anyone to intervene. But before each suicide, there is a natural-seeming death, and these events are connected in a horrifying way. The answer is in a haunted house—a new build over a previously demolished one that has activated a horror almost nearly beyond control. The ending is absolutely perfect and satisfying.

There is more than one genre represented in By Your Side, and it has been my experience that when an author attempts to meld multiple genres, as this book does, that it can easily come across as somewhat forced, causing the reader to wonder exactly what type of book the author meant to write, as the waters are so muddied. But with By Your Side, the genre mix is clearly defined, and like a Maestro, Mr. Giunta has blended the mystery, thriller, horror, and paranormal genres, with a soupçon of heartbreak and humor, into a symphony of perfect pitch and harmony. Toscanini could do no better.

This book is so brilliantly written that it seems believable and real, and you will identify with and root for the whole team. With the way Mr. Giunta portrays his characters, you will probably be able to say that you know someone exactly like every one of them—no mean feat. What was interesting was that I cared about every single character—the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s never happened to me before and probably happened this time because the author took the time to develop the characters so well that the reader comes away with a deep understanding of each one and why they are the way they are.

Realistic dialogue is an area where many authors fall down, but not so here. It is deftly written, and the author has clearly studied the way people really speak, making it easy to read.

Overall, you can’t ask for a better story. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy…and save it for a stormy night.

6 out of 5 stars.

About Carson Buckingham

Professionally, Carson Buckingham has made her way in life doing all manner of things, most of which involve arson. She is currently employed as a freelance writer on a work release program. In her spare time, she studies forensics, in hopes of applying her new knowledge to eluding the authorities more effectively the next time. She is originally from Connecticut, but now resides in Kentucky—and Connecticut is glad to be rid of her.