"Trish J MacGregor creates imaginative worlds where neither beasts, ghosts nor humans are as they seem to be, where anything and anyone can change in a flash, where love is still worth saving, and where the most courageous act of all is simply holding on to your humanity."
- Nancy Pickard, NYT bestselling author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning
"...another mesmerizing tale of mystery, mysticism, adventure, and love and hope in a setting you will long remember and a tale which will leave you not just wanting more, but needing more..."
Dominica and her tribe of brujos, hungry ghosts, were driven from Esperanza on the summer solstice of 2008. In this great battle, most of Dominica's tribe was annihilated - freed to move on in the afterlife. But Dominica managed to survive the destruction of her tribe and in retaliation for Tess Livingston's role in the destruction of her tribe, she seizes Maddie, Tess's 19-year-old niece, and flees Esperanza.
Dominica ends up in the U.S., on the island of Cedar Key, off Florida's Gulf coast. Here, she tries to rebuild her tribe by recruiting new ghosts. But in attempting to take over Cedar Key, she arouses the suspicion of the U.S. government when a remote viewer, Nick Sanchez, glimpses the island - and Dominica's host, Maddie - in connection with thirteen unexplained deaths. The government believes the deaths were the result of a biological terrorist weapon and that Cedar Key is the perfect place for such a weapon, isolated, small, containable.
Meanwhile, Dominica is being pursued by Wayra, a shape shifter from Esperanza, Dominica's oldest lover and most bitter enemy, who is intent on freeing Maddie. Dominica hasn't taken into account the fierce independence of the island locals, in particular that of a single mother and bartender, Kate, who will fight to the death to protect her teenaged son- and the island she loves.
Cedar Key is an actual place, situated 50 miles to the southwest of Gainesville. Here is a map of the island. Between Gainesville and Cedar Key, there isn't much except dense pine woods on either side of the road. There's just one way in or out. The island is often referred to as Old Florida - i.e., before Disney World. There are no malls or chain stores here. The quaint streets are lined with colorful shops owned by the locals. The population year round hovers around 700 hearty souls. Here is a view from the Old Fenmore Mill, mentioned in the novel:
Cedar Key has a flourishing fishing and clamming industry and a booming artist colony. In the evening, dolphins are often seen just offshore, particularly during the winter months when they seek warmer waters.
Cedar Key and the surrounding islands were first mapped in 1542 by a Spanish cartographer, who called them Las Islas Sabines- the Cedar Keys. The actual town of Cedar Key was first established on a different island - Atsena Otie - in 1840, when a military depot was established there. During the Civil War, the islands became a location for blockade running and salt production. Lumber was one of the primary industries and during the 1880s, sawmills and pencil factories dominated the town. Today, cedar trees are a rarity on the islands.
Here's The Island Hotel, where Dominica sets up shop. I was convinced this hotel was the place for her when a waitress told me the hotel had 13 ghosts, which has been sighted over the years by guests and employees. There was that number again, 13, which figured so prominently in Esperanza.
The area has 139 buildings and archaeological sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of these spots is the Island Hotel, built in 1859 as a general store. During the Civil War, the hotel was used at different times by Union and Confederate soldiers. A former owner of the hotel, Simon Feinger is said to be one of 13 ghosts that call the hotel home. When you walk into the hotel or sit out in the old courtyard, there's a palpable strangeness, a sense that you're being observed.
Most of the buildings sit on wood or concrete pilings. This next photo is taken from Dock Street, the main tourist area. In the novel, Kate's houseboat is tied up in a slip here.
The salt marsh found offshore is a paradise for bird watchers. Dolphins and manatees often make their way into the marsh as the tide rises. During low tide, you can walk out to many of the surrounding islands. So this is the place Dominica hopes to make her own.
The Main Characters in Ghost Key
40, bartender, ex-teacher, single mom, an islander. She's one of the first people on Cedar Key to realize that nothing is what it seems.
Tess Livingston's 19-year-old niece, host to Dominica for many months when the book opens. Dominica controls her, so Maddie is essentially a prisoner in her own body. In order to hold on to her sanity, she is learning how to manipulate her own consciousness.
A 28-year-old remote viewer for the U.S. government. He falls in love with Maddie when his RV sessions turn personal.
As a shape shifter, he is hundreds of years old. He pursues Dominica in order to free Maddie from Dominica.
One of the ancient brujos, the deposed leader of what was once the largest tribe of hungry ghosts in the world.
Rocky: Kate's 15 year-old son.
Charlie Livingston: Tess's father, died a decade ago, now a member of the chasers, the enlightened souls who are locked in a perpetual battle with the brujos.
Victor: Like Charlie, he's a member of the chaser council, and has a vested interest in freeing Maddie and conquering Dominica.
Whit: One of Dominica's new recruits, her newest lover, a bad ass and her second in command. Occupies the body of Peter Stanton, the island mayor.
Liam: Another member of Dominica's trusted inner circle, her new inner circle. He is hosted by Richard, Kate's ex-lover.
Joe and Jill: the other 2 members of Dominica's trusted inner circle. They are hosted by Bean, Kate's boss, and Marion, the island librarian.
Zee Small: an island legend, plays the violin like a master, heads a rogue group preparing for the End Times. Kate has known him since she was a kid.
Jenean: Sanchez's dead mother, with whom he has issues that must be resolved.
We hope you'll join us in the latest adventure from the edge of time and space and high strangeness.