Novella Review: Odd Spirits by S.T. Gibson

Title: Odd Spirits
Author: S.T. Gibson
Released: August 07, 2018 (Kindle)
Series: N/A
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Description: Fans of The Raven Cycle and The Haunting of Hill House will devour this diverse paranormal romance novella from the author of “Hosanna Americana”!

It takes a lot of commitment to make a marriage between a modern ceremonial magician and a chaos witch work, but when a malevolent entity takes up residence in Rhys and Moira’s home, their love will be pushed to the limits. Brewing up a solution is easier said than done when your magical styles are polar opposites; throw a psychic ex and a secret society in the mix, and things are about to get messy.

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire novella. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care or you’ve already read the novella. Also note that the story contains biphobia and this review talks about it.

From the summary alone, this story had a good hook and got me pretty interested. A witchy couple dealing with both a messy situation and a potential poltergeist? Sounds fun!

However, it’s very disappointing after a certain scene. It turns out that the poltergeist isn’t a poltergeist at all but a tulpa – a combination of both Rhys and Moira’s anxieties, insecurities, and other negative feelings combined, and especially since they both come from different studies of magic.

Up till now, there are flashbacks peppered between the main story through chapters which are fine and they’re cute. But, well, and I think this contributes a lot to how I feel about the ending and revelations about the couple. I’m sure the flashbacks aimed to show how opposite both Moira and Rhys are but they fell in love anyway.

But, issues about their past were never brought up until the climax and even that’s questionable at best. Moira admits that she “doesn’t like the fact [he’s] bisexual” and Rhys doesn’t like the fact that… she talks to people in lines and doesn’t seem to realize they’re flirting with her.

So, I have several issues with this so let me try to get to the point.

Rhys invites a group of men from something called The Society, one of whom was an ex-boyfriend of his. When Moira brings up the fact she’s jealous and worried that she’s not enough for Rhys, knowing the kind of man David (the ex-boyfriend) is, she drops the biphobia and it made me view her differently as a character. If you wanted to establish the fact the character is worried or jealous about her husband spending time with his ex-boyfriend, there are way better ways and those lines were completely unnecessary. There’s already the fact that Moira worries she’s not enough for him – why add in the fact that Rhys is bisexual? We can infer that without the slurs.

And I think another thing that bothers me a lot as well is that Moira is seemingly the only person of color so seeing her say all these things towards her white husband… It bothers me a lot more than I’d like to admit. Not to say that people of color don’t hold bigoted views, they absolutely can, but it’s quite the observation that the only woman of color (with a speaking role) is the one saying these things.

I would’ve expected David, the narcissistic Leo, to be that way considering he kept acting like he’s God’s gift to everyone as he’d ‘grace’ them with his presence. And especially since he made it a point to irritate Moira with little to no repercussions except when Rhys “makes” the tulpa attack him. I wasn’t too clear about what happened but it doesn’t matter.

There’s no accusation being made here. Moira, by herself, is a good character in her own right but she feels a bit too small and too compartmentalized compared to Rhys whose own history seemed to be more fleshed out.

I do believe that Moira and Rhys love each other, but with the talks between the jealousy and anxieties and insecurities, I sure wished the flashbacks were utilized a bit better. They don’t have to be all fluff and all happy times and they don’t have to be completely miserable either. The fact of the matter is that no relationship is perfect and while the author may have good intentions to show an interracial relationship, the biphobia took me out where it almost felt that the writing degraded – which could very well be my biases and the fact the biphobic lines bothered me.

Before the biphobia, I did enjoy it, even if it is a bit flawed in places, but it is very disappointing.

And what makes the fallout worse for me is that Rhys is the one who apologizes to her. If you see the warning that biphobia comes up, it does, but there’s no real discussion on it. There’s no real tackling other than, “I’m just jealous” “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Simply put, the thing that took me out the most was the biphobia coming from the speaking woman of color, it wasn’t addressed, and nothing changed.

If Moira had simply said, “I’m jealous of the relationship between you and David” and left it at that, that’s way more understanding than biphobia. Jealousy is something that everyone experiences and especially since they’re a young couple, after going out for a short amount of time, there could’ve been a way to show that okay – maybe they rushed their relationship, and even though they love each other, sometimes, insecurities have their way of popping up (the tulpa).

And honestly, I’m not fond of David on there because he nearly stole the show. Even though his point was to drive the couple closer together, it felt he was trying to drive a wedge more… and he came off looking like a ‘hero’ at the end of it all.

At the end of the day, I think the biggest problem is that not enough is shown – why did Rhys go out with David in the first place, why does Rhys have difficulty with Moira being a bit more chatty than he is? And a lot more questions as well. Once again, “show, don’t tell” rears its ugly head but unfortunately, the biphobia showed itself more.

 

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About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on April 26, 2021, in ★★☆☆☆ – 2 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, Novellas, Oneshots and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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