Welcome to the next installment in our Spooktober Series! Ears on the Odyssey contributor Colleen Seisser treats us to a review of The Unleashed, the second book in Danielle Vega’s The Haunted Series. If you’re unfamiliar with The Haunted, make sure to check out Colleen’s review from last summer, and also, spoilers ahead if you have not read the first book!
Both The Haunted and The Unleashed are a perfect pair of books to pick up to get you ready for Halloween, or if you love ghost stories and hauntings.
Here’s a short recap of what took place in the first book, The Haunted: Hendricks and her family are new to the town of Drearford and have moved into Steele House, a big old house that her parents hope to flip for a profit. Suffering PTSD from a recent abusive relationship, Hendricks begins to experience all kinds of horrible things in Steele House. At first she believes it’s just her, but she learns from her new friends at school and her neighbor Eddie that many terrible things have happened at the house. Hendricks and Eddie become convinced that the house is haunted and work to rid the house of the vengeful spirits. The house is not happy about what they are trying to do, however. Eddie pays the ultimate sacrifice and is killed at Steele House to help Hendricks free herself, her friends, and her family from its evil. The house burns down and Hendricks believes that it’s over…
That is, until we start The Unleashed. Three months later, Hendricks is still mourning Eddie but she, Portia, and Connor have spent the last few months trying to move on from the events at Steele House. Their friend Raven is still in a coma from injuries sustained the night Eddie sacrificed himself to save everyone. Hendricks can’t let Eddie go, and so she seeks out a way to contact him, and wouldn’t you know it– It involves using the charred remains of Steele House to contact him. It should come at no surprise that Henricks and her friends instead unleashed a vengeful spirit that wreaks havoc on them. It’s a classic haunting ghost/house story sequel!
Even though this plot was somewhat predictable, it was still fun to return to Drearford and encounter Steele House again (what remains of it at least) and listen to a spirited ghost story that did surprise at times. These characters are also so much fun to spend time with in the sequel. Holly Linneman returned to narrate, and she does a great job continuing to give each character their own voice. There is a lot of distinction in this novel’s wide cast of characters. Consistency carries through from the first book, too, as Linneman still gives Henricks the authentic, likeable, and strong voicing that you depended on in the first book. Portia is still overly bubbly, but gets added dimension in this book where she becomes more of a main character. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the chills and shivers from the true horror scenes from Linneman. She does the big bad voices so well! In this novel it’s the ghost of a truly deranged teen from the 80’s who’s doomed to search for the perfect sacrifice to connect himself to the spirit world. His voice is gravelly and awfu,l and you just don’t like him from the minute he utters his first chilling line.
All in all, both The Haunted and The Unleashed are best read together if one is looking for a good ghost story. The Haunted has a much stronger plot, but the characters feel more developed in The Unleashed and are more enjoyable to spend time with. Happy Haunting!
The Unleashed, by Danielle Vega, read by Holly Linneman. 8 hours, 7 minutes. Listening Library, 2020.