The Occupant is the third book in the Afterlife Investigation series by Ambrose Ibsen. It is a thriller, horror, paranormal and if you have not read or listen to the first two books, STOP reading now. It is impossible to write a review of the sequels without leaking spoilers from the previous books.
The main character of all three books is Stephen Barlow is an adjunct professor at an Ohio college. In the first book Asylum, Barlow becomes involved with two students, Elizabeth and Jake who want to form a Spiritual Club ( paranormal not kumbaya). They investigate Chaythe Asylum and inadvertently release something evil that has been stuck there for 28 years. In the second book, Forest, Barlow is trying to stop the entity known as The Occupant. Elizabeth is possessed by the entity as Barlow tries to save her and kill The Occupant.
In the third book, The Occupant, Barlow is now deep in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He and Jake are searching for the lost town that The Occupant was associated with. Elizabeth is somewhere in the unending dark woods, the body through which The Occupant was working to bring its full entry into our world. Jake and Barlow try to piece together the history of The Occupant through the history of the town which has disappeared. They are helped by Jane who was originally used by her uncle to bring The Occupant into the world from the pit where it dwelled.
The pervading sense of dread is ratcheted up several notches in this book. It creates almost a sense of breathlessness. Even when the action is slowed down, there is still the feeling that something is circling ever closer. There are constantly large swatches of forest, trees blocking out the sun or the moon, swaying in the breeze, hiding anything moving slowly, carefully and quietly towards Barlow. The ending of the book really did not give me any sense of closure or peace. I am not sure if the series will continue with Barlow investigating other paranormal things or if this will be the end. Somehow I don’t think it is. “The door has been opened. It’s already too late.”
Joe Hempel does as great job narrating all three books. He conveys the tension and fear just as well in this book as he did in the other Ibsen books I have listened to. While the story gets very intense, Mr.Hempel never veers in hysteria or yelling. I really enjoyed his narration. I will be looking for more books narrated by Mr. Hempel.