The After House, by Michael Phillip Cash

Seven stars

Cash pens another story with a paranormal flavour in its plot, using both history and locale to entice the reader to forge onwards. Remy Galway thought she had it all when she had the man of her dreams and was motivated to make a name for herself. All this came into question after the birth of their daughter, Olivia, when Remy started to see a change in Scott. His tender moments were replaced with lies and his soothing embrace became fists to the face. Decimated, but refusing to accept her parents’ charity, Remy took Olivia and found a a place of her own, a rental property Cold Spring Harbor. As Remy and Olivia settle, they are not aware that the home was once inhabited by Captain Eli Gaspar, a famous whaler from the 19th century, whose ghost remains on the premises. Gaspar was none too pleased with the ladies living in his home and did all he could to push them out, in ways only a devious sailor could devise. However, Olivia was having none of it and kept the apparition in his place by refusing to scare and pushing back to mock the little man. While Remy could not see the Captain, she definitely felt the wrath he left around the house, still unsure what was going on. When the town historian comes to pay her a visit, more at her parents’ insistence than for any other reason, Remy begins to develop a connection with Hugh Matthews. They share a bond and he is able to enlighten her a little more about the house in which she lives and Gaspar’s past. After a series of incidents that the Captain swears were not of his doing, Remy is hospitalised and Hugh vows to do whatever he can to help her. Their bond becomes stronger and they soon realise they are meant to be together. Meanwhile, the Captain has been trying to make sense of his own life and the struggle of the family he lost in the 1840s when he was too busy at sea. With a little help from the paranormal world, Gaspar soon finds a pathway that has eluded him. A well concocted story that keeps the reader sailing through the pages with ease, Cash’s story is a sure investment to a contented afternoon of reading.

As Cash mentions in the early part of the book, the after house on a ship is a protected area where seamen can seek shelter from weather and other issues on ship. In this story, as far as metaphors go, Cash creates an after house of the actual house, allowing the likes of Remy, Olivia, and even Captain Eli to seek shelter from the torrential life that is rushing past them. While some may look at this story and say, ‘ghosts and haunting? I’ll pass!’ there is so much more to this story than that. The plot and characters ever surpass the syrupy lovey-dovey aspects it would seem are present throughout, especially with Hugh and Remy. Cash weaves a wonderful story that works on many levels and entertains all the while. This novella is well-researched and its movement between the present and Captain Eli’s past tells a double-barrel story that keeps the readers intrigued until the very end. I have always enjoyed Cash’s work, even if the paranormal has never been one of my subjects of greatest interest.

Kudos, Mr. Cash for another great story that pulls numerous genres together into something that can be read in a single sitting.