I found this thriller to be entertaining and completely different than any other ghost story I’ve read because it is a fictional adaptation of an actual story that happened to one of the West Point cadets in the 1980’s. Poor Cadet Barstow thinks he is losing his mind because every night he’s visited by ghosts in his room. In asking for help so he can come to some understanding of this situation, two faculty psychologists are assigned to his case. Sam Bondurant and Liam FitzDonnell are told to get to the bottom of this perplexing situation, but in the process, they have to keep it as quiet as possible so no attention will be drawn away from the upcoming Army-Navy game. Setting out to find some answers, Sam and Liam are astounded by their actual findings.
I loved this thriller because it was part mystery and part ghost story. To add to the enjoyment, it was a retelling of a supposedly real account that happened to a cadet living at West Point. Mr. O’Neill had a wonderful cadence to his voice and told this cadet’s troubling situation with such enthusiasm and eeriness that I was sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what might possibly happen next. This is a great ghost story to enjoy any time of year, but it added even more fun to the mix for me because Halloween is a few weeks away. What better way for me to prepare to celebrate the spookiest time of year than to devour a chilling ghost story set at West Point? Well done!
When Cadet Barstow is continually visited by something that is haunting him night after night in his room at West Point, he clearly thinks that he’s losing his mind. He finally speaks up about it and it troubles the staff. Two faculty psychologists are assigned the case and told to find the answers as soon as possible, but it must be kept under wraps while they’re doing it. Sam Bondurant and Liam FitzDonnell aren’t sure what they’ll find while searching for the truth, but they are determined to get to the bottom of things one way or another. To say they’re shocked by their discovery is an understatement. What do these gentlemen find during their investigation into Cadet Barstow’s ghostly claims?
The dreams would start with the high-pitched sound of a child crying, and with that would come the cold, frosting the windows of the old barracks room in the 47th Division at West Point. Cadet Barstow would wake then, and the gray shape would be there, the llights of its eyes shining on them with infinite sadness. Barstow sthought he was going crazy. One morning, visited again by the dream and its spectral attendants, he disappeared.
When faculty psychologists Sam Bondurant and Liam FitzDonnell are consulted in Barstow case, their job is to keep the episode quiet--at least until the Army-Navy game--and to find some reasonable explanation for whatever is really going on in that room. Sam and Liam are friends who rarely see eye to eye, but together they're fit for the task--Sam withhis rationalism and faith in sophisticated equipment, Liam with his own painful grasp of the demons to which the mind is vulnerable. Their investigation is wilolfully joined by Sam's scholarly and fanciful wife, Maggie, who gradually uncovers evidence of not one ghost but several, bound together in the warp of time to a fatal fire in 1830.
What none of these protagonists realizes is the awesome power of the supernatural--the power to clutch at the living from the other side of death. Shades ofGray offers the reader many satisfactions: a colorful and amusing portrait of West Point and the people who spend their lives there, a resonant psychological theme, stylish and intelligent writing. But most of all, Timothy O'Neill's novel makes the power of the supernatural real...and terrifying.