Book Review: The Paranaturalist by Ki Brightly

Joe, the reality TV star of "The Paranaturalist," lost his paranormal abilities as a child, but after nearly drowning in a river one night, his abilities come back, leaving him scared, confused, and completely unaware of how to actually use his powers or keep himself and others safe. Owen always thought Joe's show was a joke, but after pulling him out of the river, he realizes Joe is actually the real deal and, being someone with paranormal abilities of his own, decides to stick around and help. When Joe's life starts crashing down, the two become a lot closer than either expected.

Book Review: The Paranaturalist by Ki Brightly | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, lgbt, ghosts/spirits
Title: The Paranaturalist
Pages: 414
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

I had a strange experience with this book because it seems like something I should have loved, it had the right ingredients, but it didn’t quite work for me, and I can’t figure out why.

First off, the three main characters, Joe (the protag), Owen (the love interest), and Scott (the best friend), all seemed realistic and three-dimensional… but I didn’t really like them. Joe had low self-esteem, was superficial, and was weak-willed with the way he let all of Scott’s behavior slide. Owen wasn’t a bad person, but he was a bit of a jerk sometimes (for example, he could’ve explained things to Joe instead of letting him flounder in the beginning). And Scott lied, cheated, manipulated, and treated people horribly (to be fair though, he wasn’t supposed to be likeable). So I appreciated that they were realistic, and all three of them showed growth and got more likeable by the end, but for some reason I just didn’t get completely invested in them.

There was one character I did love though: Otto. He was some sort of spirit, but he acted like a harmless poltergeist. He stuck his hands in the TV to mess up the picture while Owen was watching. He knocked a jar of beads onto the floor simply because he was bored, then laid on the floor so that Owen had to reach through his incorporeal body to get the beads because he knew Owen didn’t like that. He loved it whenever anyone paid him attention and would follow them around for a bit. In other words, he was kind of mischievous but funny and entertaining. Then he and Peter, another spirit, starting hanging out, and seriously, I want to know their story. Can I have a book about them?

Then there was the reality TV stuff. That was one of the things that drew me to the book—it was something I had never read about. And that too seemed realistic… it just turned out I didn’t like that either. It was petty and superficial and basically a crew who cared more about getting a good shot than they did about each other.

As for the romance between Joe and Owen, I felt conflicted. On the one hand, they had good chemistry, and the sex was hot. On the other hand, it happened fast, and they were far too distracted by each others’ smells/lips/hair and their constant need to tamp down their man parts when they had more important things that needed their attention.

The whole thing with Scott also detracted from the romance. The parts about Scott were another thing I feel like I should’ve loved because they had the most emotion, but I guess it just didn’t affect me that much because of how I wasn’t fully invested.

The plot was my only concrete issue. There was no clear goal, and then things started getting episodic near the end. I didn’t see the point of some of the parts included, and I wasn’t sure where the plot was going or why the book wasn’t wrapping up. There were also a few things that were thrown into the book but then never brought up again or explained.

But as I said the book felt pretty realistic (aside from the quickness of the relationship), the main characters were believably flawed and showed growth, and there was some emotional struggle. For whatever reason, the book just didn’t quite click with me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t click with other people, and it was by no means a bad read, so I’m still glad I read it!


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  1. Lola

    It’s annoying when that happens, a book has all the right ingredients, but you don’t love it as much as you expected and can’t fully figure out why. That’s too bad you didn’t quite like the characters, although it is great they were all realistic. Otto sounds like a fun and interesting side character.

    Strangely enough I recently had a cozy mystery where the same happened, I thought I would really enjoy it and it ended up being just okay and there was a grumpy cook side character who’s story i wanted and I didn’t like the main character as much as I would’ve liked.

    I’ve read a few books with a reality show side plot and they can be done well, but it’s not really an element that would attract me to a book, only if the rest sounds good. I am glad to hear you still enjoyed this one even though it didn’t fully click with you, it still sounds like it had some good parts as well.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’s a weird, confusing feeling. I still don’t understand why I didn’t like it more because normally I don’t need to like the characters as long as they’re realistic and interesting, which these were. But yes Otto really cracked me up lol, and he was also kind of an enigma.

      That’s funny, it does sound like we had really similar experiences!

      The reality TV thing isn’t something I’d look for in the future, but it attracted me this time since it was something new for me. The book definitely had good things about it, it just wasn’t quite for me, I guess.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s not even that the execution wasn’t good—the characters were developed and the paranormal stuff was cool—but for whatever reason I just didn’t quite connect with it.

  2. AngelErin

    This sounds pretty interesting. The reality TV part especially. I just hate that when a book sounds perfect, but just doesn’t work for some reason. :/ Sorry it wasn’t quite what you wanted.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I was super curious to read about the reality TV aspect. I still don’t understand why I didn’t like it more though since I love realistic, flawed characters and all that. Just one of those weird things, I guess.