It’s Halloween and I am going to give a review of a scary story… Read if you dare!
Chasing the Dead by Keta Diablo
Rating – 5 stars
In 1884, New Mexico, Sacheen an Apache waited for her brother Elan. He had declared revenge on Uday, who wanted to marry Sacheen. Because her father refused to give her for marriage, Uday killed him. Now Elan fought and killed Uday in front of the village.
In El Vaquero, Madrid Arrende, a half Spanish half Mexican woman was planning to go for a ride, despite her father’s concerns. Even after going with bodyguards she was captured by the Apache. Her late mother, Celesta had the power to talk to the dead. So after Uday was killed, his ghost was tormenting the villagers and that’s why they kidnapped Madrid to chase him away. Being engaged to Emmett Plummer, a banker she expected him to rescue her.
Meanwhile her father, Don Erasmos had sent a messenger to Deacon Bannister at his ranch 5 Horses. Despite that Deacon left Madrid at the altar a year earlier, Don Erasmos trusted him due to being familiar both with the Mexicans and Indians. He left his brothers Gideon and Sefton at the farm and took his dog Vapor with him. At El Vaquero he met Madrid’s father and fiancé. He had a dislike for Emmett even before meeting him. Emmett, knowing the couple’s history warned Deacon to stay away from Madrid.
Deacon reached the Apache village alone and pretended to be her husband much to Madrid’s annoyance. An argument followed with the leader who wanted to kill both Deacon and Madrid. Sacheen pleaded and finally decided to leave the village along with them. The ghost of Uday followed them as they travelled back to El Vaquero.
While Madrid tried her best to help Sacheen using her instincts and Catholic prayers, she also tried to fight her attraction to Deacon. At first Deacon doesn’t believe in the supernatural but when the ghost takes control of his dog, he accepts his mistake. While Sacheen was keeping watch in the night Gideon reached them because he was worried for his brother. He fought with her thinking she’s a man. Gideon offered to guard while the three of them fell asleep. However, the ghost appeared and tried to kill Sacheen by snake bite but Gideon saved her. Suddenly, Celesta appeared before Madrid and helped her to get rid of the ghost.
Despite being wounded in the fight with the ghost, Deacon travelled along with Madrid, Gideon and an unconscious Sacheen. Once they reached Madrid’s house, everyone was taken care of and called Nasario, a shaman to cure Sacheen. After she came to consciousness, Madrid assured her that she was safe at El Vaquero. Madrid understood that Gideon and Sacheen were falling for each other.
Meanwhile, her father was preparing a festival for her safe arrival home, and requested Deacon and Gideon to remain there. Confronting Madrid, Deacon begged her to marry him as he had realised his blunder. His farm had been raided by the Indians some years earlier. They had killed his parents and kidnapped his two sisters. He became so obsessed with his search for his sisters that he threw away the love of his life. Now that he had a second chance, he didn’t want to lose Madrid, and was relieved when she confessed her love for him. Madrid told Emmett her decision during the celebration and he felt humiliated.
Sacheen, not knowing what Gideon thought about her, felt she didn’t belong there. She was planning to leave when the ghost tricks her into thinking her brother has come for her. He marked a path for her using stones called Apache tears which led her to a pond of sludge. Uday’s ghost appeared and dragged her into the pond which was a gateway to hell. Madrid, being able to sense the presence of the supernatural, couldn’t find Sacheen and got Deacon, Gideon and Nasario to help her. They reached the pond where the shaman explained the situation.
Gideon offered to go himself. He was given a bear headed robe to wear by the shaman, since Uday was afraid of bears, while Madrid gave him the cross of Caravaca. Entering the underworld, he passed through tunnels and dangerous creatures that ignored him. Finally reaching Uday’s lair, he saw Sacheen bound to a stake and bleeding. Uday appeared before him and noticed the bear’s head which frightened him. However, he still managed to wound Gideon. Celesta appeared again, fought the ghost and destroyed him with holy water. After releasing Sacheen from the stake, Celesta helped the two of them to leave the underworld.
This is a very interesting combination of the genres of western historical and paranormal romance. Initially the story alternates between the four main characters until Deacon meets Madrid and Sacheen.
Then the story moves forward with the ghost chasing them. Gideon, being an elder brother to Deacon, was worried about him. Somehow he’s able to track him down and first meets Sacheen. Even though Madrid and Deacon talk about their issues, Madrid isn’t sure what to do. The appearance of the ghost terrorises them but they still fight. Celesta, being a powerful soul defeated the Uday’s ghost and assured Madrid that she’s always with her.
They are still able to reach Madrid’s home where she cures Sacheen and assures her that she’s safe. Gideon, who has fallen for Sacheen, makes her promise not to leave the place. On the other hand, Deacon realising his mistake and convinced that Madrid still loved him, proposes to her again which she accepts after a heated argument. That was because she was afraid that he would change his mind which would be a normal reaction for any woman. But since Deacon confessed his mistake, that made him a better man.
Gideon initially doesn’t confess his feelings which make Sacheen doubtful. She wasn’t comfortable with the many foreigners during the celebration and thus, decides to leave them and go back to her brother. She makes the mistake of leaving the house and Uday, being a vengeful spirit, drags her with him to hell. Gideon regrets not telling his feelings and saves her.
Although there’s no room for humour still, it is an interesting story of romance, paranormal, adventure and a bit of action.
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