Publication Date: October 10, 2023
It promises beauty but steals life instead. Will the ghosts of Barlowe Theater entomb them all?
Barlowe Theater stole the life of Greta Mercy’s eldest brother during its construction. Now in 1915, the completed theater appears every bit as deadly. When Greta’s younger brother goes missing after breaking into the building, Greta engages the assistance of a local police officer to help her unveil the already ghostly secrets of the theater. But when help comes from an unlikely source, Greta decides that to save her family she must uncover the evil that haunts the theater and put its threat to rest.
Decades later, Kit Boyd’s best friend vanishes during a ghost walk at the Barlowe Theater, and old stories of mysterious disappearances and ghoulish happenings are revived. Then television ghost-hunting host and skeptic Evan Fisher joins Kit in the quest to identify the truth behind the theater’s history. Kit reluctantly agrees to work with him in hopes of finding her missing friend. As the theater’s curse unravels Kit’s life, she is determined to put an end to the evil that has marked the theater and their hometown for the last century.
Two stories, one in 1915 and the other set in the present day, have mysterious connections through the shadowy and historic Barlowe Theater, spanning the decades between. While Jaime Jo Wright’s The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater is replete with a mysterious woman in white, secret vaults, and corruption, it also features stories of loyalty, love, and true friendship.
Greta Mercy’s parents have died, and her older brother, Gerard, was killed during the construction of the Barlowe Theater. Left alone to care for her four brothers, Greta is feeling the burden of responsibility. When her close friends, Oscar and Eleanor Boyd, invite her to an opera to be performed at the Barlowe Theater, she welcomes the distraction. It’s an enjoyable evening until she sees the unthinkable—a woman drops a baby from an upper balcony. It sets the theater into chaos.
However, there are two problems. Greta is the only one who saw it happen, and there is no baby. The entire plot is set into motion as Greta is accused of either purposefully making trouble for the theater or is mentally unstable. In an effort to prove Greta’s innocence, her brother, Leo, along with two friends, sneak into the theater that same night. They sneak in, but they never come out—giving birth to the legend of the “Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater.”
In the present day, Kit Boyd’s best friend, Madison Farrington, is determined to bring attention to the historic theater to save it from demolition. Her plan is to play on the legend of the “Lost Boys” by giving it nationwide exposure on the TV show Psychic and the Skeptic.
During the initial ghost walk with the show’s stars and cameraman, Madison disappears without a trace. Kit is determined to find her friend but is inexplicably dogged by a series of suspicious, life-threatening events. Evan Fischer, the show’s star skeptic, is also a previous detective. Putting those skills to use along with Kit’s knowledge of Kippers Grove and Madison, they team up to discover the truth behind not only Madison’s disappearance but potentially other mysteries lurking in Barlowe Theater.
Greta Mercy’s story, set in 1915 in Jaime Jo Wright’s The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater, is compelling—taut with the unknown and the mysterious happenings for which there seems to be no explanation. The mystery in the theater and Greta’s work to care for her brothers while daring to hope for someone to love and care for her is gripping. The writing is well-paced, while the characters and setting descriptions are vivid and striking. It would have made an outstanding standalone story with just a bit more development.
However, with the present-day story, the writing wasn’t as strong. The chemistry that should exist and was implied between the two main characters just didn’t work for me. While events were brought loosely together at the end, along with the reason for their happening, the ending felt fragmented. The secondary characters are ultimately responsible for the big reveal, and their motives for the criminal acts are vague, leaving this reader without a completely satisfying ending.
While mysterious and haunting, The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater is also a story of the contrast between greed and power versus true friendship and possibly even love.
Jaime Jo Wright is the author of nine novels, including Christy Award and Daphne du Maurier Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their two mini-adults, Peter Pan and CoCo.
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