Haze by Rebecca Crunden is a paranormal romance that touches on grief and the unseen consequences of your actions.
Thank you to the author, Rebecca Crunden, for sending me a free copy of Haze in return for an honest review.
Haze begins with Erik and Miles trying to cast a magic spell in an abandoned house in the woods. The boys are 10 years old. Erik’s mother died recently and he wants to speak to her again. Unfortunately, the spell doesn’t work. Erik is angry and heartbroken.
The story then fasts forward nine years. Erik and Eliza are a young couple in love, recently engaged. Erik has a bad past, growing up with an abusive father. But then Eliza receives a phone call from a girl who claims to be Paige, Erik’s ex-girlfriend, who asks to meet with her. Eliza agrees. It’s only later that Eliza finds out that Paige died several years ago. This starts a domino effect of tragic events. We pick the story back up five years on.
While paranormal and mystery elements to it, it’s also a romance. Haze explores the impact of grief, and tackles mental health, alcoholism and drug addiction. It is well-written and moving in places. While the paranormal side is engaging, it does take a bit of a back seat to the rest of the book — it’s only a small part of the story. But that does make it shocking and unexpected when the ghosts do appear! At first it feels like a slow start, as a lot of details seem irrelevant to the main story, but halfway through all the pieces start to come together.
The whole story is very character-driven, moved by Erik and Eliza’s actions and past mistakes. I liked both Erik and Eliza, and I was heartbroken to see how life had turned out for them both. “Actions have consequences, Eliza. Even the actions of children.” Rebecca is a wonderful writer and their relationship is beautifully written. They are multi-faceted and believable. I particularly liked this section:
Everyone seemed to want something, everyone had an opinion they felt obliged to share, everyone had a problem that they wanted fixed even when it was futile, everyone wanted something from her.
Only Erik had fit so well into her life that she hadn’t had to fit him anywhere. She never needed to make time for him or fill the silence or explain her thoughts. He was just there one morning, as if he had always been there. Her friends, her family, her job, they all required effort; she had to remind herself to act a certain way, be the person they needed or wanted. She was happy to do it, happy to be that for the ones she felt had earned it. But with Erik she never had to try, she had never had to think. Everything just was.
Miles, Erik and Eliza’s best friend, is also a great character and I enjoyed the sections with him. Even Roger became more likeable, or at least more relatable, as the story progressed.
This is a great read — I really enjoyed the characters and the writing style! I’ll certainly be reading more of Rebecca’s work. It has a lot of darker elements (there is a lot of drug use and mentions of rape — though nothing is described) so it may not appeal to all readers. But it really is a satisfying read with a great ending and conclusion.
The blurb for Haze
When Eliza Owens gets a phone call in the middle of the night from a girl she’s never met, she doesn’t know what to think. The girl introduces herself as Paige, and says she used to date Erik Stern, Eliza’s fiancé. What’s more, she has something important to discuss.
The only problem? Paige has been dead for years.
Believing it to be a sick prank, Eliza tries to force it from her mind until Sam, Eliza’s older sister, tells her she met Paige only a few weeks before. And, according to Sam, Paige has nothing nice to say about Erik.
The fight which follows shatters the lives of everyone involved, and Erik disappears without a trace.
Five years later, Erik returns to town after his father’s death. Old wounds quickly resurface, and with them several burning questions. None the least of which is: Who spoke to Eliza and Sam if it wasn’t Paige? And why?
About the author, Rebecca Crunden
Rebecca Crunden is an Irish-based author originally from Texas. Obsessed with both writing and reading for as long as she can remember, she began writing as a child. After completing her first series, she decided to start independently publishing her novels in 2017. To date she’s published one series, two standalone novels, a novella, and co-written an anthology. When she’s not writing, reading or drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee, she’s hiking with her partner and watching an insane amount of science fiction-fantasy shows.