Cheryl Gray,
A Caribbean Tale of the Paranormal

(PublishAmerica, 2005)

When the Stewarts booked their cruise aboard the Northern Merchant, they had no idea what they were getting into. First, the sailing ship turned out to be nothing like the brochure. Next, it appeared that everyone on the cruise had been booked into the same cabin. And the crew, rather than being clean-cut Love Boat types, were, some of them, downright creepy.

The Northern Merchant's destination was the island of Spanish Harbor, where the Stewarts discovered a dark secret that had lain hidden for centuries. They were promised an adventure, but what they got was not at all what they had bargained for.

I have to say right up front that while Barefootin' is engaging enough, it is ultimately a disappointment. The build-up of the mystery is handled well, with the Spanish Harbor denizens appearing here and there, and the Stewarts' stop in Nassau, but the story completely stalls (and turns into a soap opera) when the Stewarts and other passengers board the Northern Merchant. Since the voyage outward to Spanish Harbor takes up more than a third of the book, it should probably be subtitled "An Excursion on a Rickety Tub."

The Spanish Harbor section -- the paranormal part of the tale -- is by far the shortest section of the book and is neither scary nor intriguing. It is, in fact, less interesting than the story of the difficulties experienced by the Stewarts and other passengers aboard the Northern Merchant.

So, while the narrative voice is engaging enough, Barefootin' never really succeeds at being either a mystery or a paranormal adventure. I'm afraid I'd have to recommend giving it a miss.

by Laurie Thayer
17 March 2007

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