Adult · Fantasy · review

Wide Open (Wide Open #1) by Deborah Coates

12074933Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Tor Books
Source: Purchased

When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days’ compassionate leave, her sister Dell’s ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell’s death was suicide, but Hallie doesn’t believe it. Something happened or Dell’s ghost wouldn’t still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell’s loss, think Hallie’s letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn’t have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone’s trying to beat her up, burn down her father’s ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie’s going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.


This novel is widely touted as being awesomesauce. It presents an intriguing protagonist who is presented with a tragic and mysterious death that necessitate her removal from the military base in Afghanistan where she was stationed back to her home in America somewhere that I don’t remember. Oh, the synopsis says South Dakota.

The novel was interesting enough, I suppose. Certainly not the grand adventure I was promised and expected. The trouble was the protagonist. I could neither relate to her nor could I like her. And I actually tried. Also, she said “shit” a lot and while I am no prude, the word does get a bit old. There could have been some variety swear words thrown into the mix, some other words that would have spiced up the dialogue and internal monologue and expressed her disdain and anger at people and the world in general.

Another thing that raised my hackles was that this protagonist was sexually assaulted in a bar and she did not take the man doing the assaulting to the police. I don’t get this and the lack of attention and follow up to this very problematic event made me want to scream. My frustration subsumed whatever else the novel may have had to offer.

The pace is slow and honestly, the book is just not fun to read. There is a whole lot of gloom and doom about the novel, the atmosphere is heavy and the prose is not strong enough to buoy the bleak landscape offered by the plot. The romance makes no sense and I am still wondering why or even if the two like each other. The villain is a reflection of many other villains found in literature and does not contain any qualities that set him apart and make him distinct.

Other people may well enjoy the novel more than I did (and indeed, judging from the reviews and the award nomination they have). The mythology itself is interesting though not original in its execution. The characterizations would have benefited from some development and well. If you want a dryer fantasy, you may like this but if you like the books I do, you probably won’t.


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