Review: ‘Haven, Kansas’ by Alethea Kontis

havenkansascoverHaven, Kansas by Alethea Kontis
CreateSpace (October 2016)
308 pages; $19.99 hardcover; $11.28 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Alethea Kontis is already a very successful writer, but one I’ve never had a chance to read, until now. Haven, Kansas may be a YA novel, but it is certainly not without its scares.

Erin was supposed to go to her best friend Lora’s for…

…the Blood Moon, the last full moon before the Witches’ New Year and Erin’s birthday.  According to the Wiccan books Lora had acquired for her research library, the October moon was meant to be a night of cleansing, a purge of  all the bad things in their lives.  A time to give thanks for the bounty that the year had brought them. It was all about new beginnings…or, it should have been.

Instead, Erin has a rendezvous with a boy, a meet-up which doesn’t go as planned, where a lost spirit enters her body, what her grandmother would call a Ghost Dancer. Erin had always loved those stories. Not anymore, however.

What follows is an entertaining tale of ghosts, witches, and ancient curses.

I am instantly drawn to the rich characters and great storytelling. The family dynamics between Lora and her brothers Conner and Luke and her parents feel real. And although just a bit player in the this tale, I found Ashley, part of a clique of mean girls in Lora’s class, to be one of those characters you love to hate.

Only a few days ago it had all been that simple—one more day just like the one before it, full of the same, silly, mundane problems. She had been just another teenager who thought witches and magic were an entertaining way to pass the time and knew nothing of the restless ghosts and bloody murder and the smell and sight of death. If she let her mind wander, she could almost imagine that none of it ever happened, that it was just a fantasy, that she was really insane and living in a delusion of grandeur.

Early in the story there are hints at horror, but mostly it seems like so much teenage angst. Stick with it. This may be a YA story, but in the end there is plenty of horror and plenty of scares, several “oh, wow” moments, and there was even one scene I was reading all alone where I let out an audible gasp. It’s that good.

Ultimately, a story dealing with loss and sacrifice, it’s one I can strongly recommend.

Leave a Reply