Prelude for Lost Souls by Helene Dunbar contains all the mystery, ghosts, and intrigue you could want! Check out the cover, plus an exclusive excerpt.
If you’re looking for your next ghost story, look no further than Prelude for Lost Souls, which follows Dec Hampton, who is trying his best to escape a life he no longer wants to lead. When fate brings him and Annie Krylova together, the truth starts to unravel and secrets are revealed.
‘Prelude for Lost Souls’ cover reveal
The cover for Helene Dunbar’s novel contains its own set of secrets. The line art is minimalistic and somewhat off-putting, as a large skull dominates most of the image.
However, when you look more closely, you’ll spot little nods to the content found in the book — the music notes, the town’s skyline, the roses, and even a gravestone.
It’s clear there will be as much to unravel about the book as there is with the cover. After you’ve done your fair share of digging, check out our exclusive look at Prelude for Lost Souls chapter 1.
‘Prelude for Lost Souls’ excerpt
Everyone in St. Hilaire talked to the dead.
Every summer, our town opened its doors to the inquisitive and the desperate, those in mourning and those overcome by guilt. The summer tourists who took the private midday train from New York City called themselves “seekers of the truth” or “the curious.” We called them customers. Or worse.
I’d played along my whole life. Casting runes. Turning over cards. Participating in séances. But being forced to spend my final day of summer as part of a community-wide assembly to raise the ghost of Ian Mackenzie, was pushing me over the edge.
Living or dead, Ian annoyed the shit out of me. He’d been an egotistical ass, a pretentious jerk, and as talented a medium as St. Hilaire—a town whose sole business was to contact the “dearly departed”—had ever seen. Bigger than life, he’d died of unknown causes at eighteen, and everyone, particularly the Guild, St. Hilaire’s psycho elitist town council, wanted to know why. And it was just like him to avoid everyone’s attempts at contact. Ian Mackenzie was a prima donna even in death.
Today, all the registered mediums in town, which was damned near all of the 367 year-round residents, had been required to gather in the red-brick square near the weathered statues of the town’s founders. A cloud of incense smoke hung over the humming and swaying crowd. Some of the kids banged on tambourines. A group of healers focused on an empty chair in the middle of the square, hoping to convince Ian’s spirit that his return to this plane wouldn’t be a painful one.
I lurked in the back, as far from the spectacle as I could park myself and still be considered present, trying not to be annoyed that my best friend, Russ Griffin, was taking it all a little too seriously.
Russ was wearing the long, black coat he’d barely taken off since he bought it over a year ago, arms uncharacteristically relaxed at his sides, breathing in synchronization with the other mediums. “Ian,” he whispered, loud enough for me to hear, reverentially enough to set my teeth on edge.
“Are you seriously playing along with this?” I hissed back.
Russ’s eyelids fluttered open as he readjusted his focus. He licked his lips and rubbed the owl-winged tattoo on his wrist—the ink was so white, it was almost invisible if you didn’t know it was there. “Well, I thought…you know,” he said, and looked away.
Unfortunately, I did know. And what I knew was this: While I was planning to leave St. Hilaire and all of this paranormal weirdness in precisely thirteen days, four hours, and fifteen minutes (give or take), Russ was equally determined to prove his worth as a medium and become a Guild member.
It used to be easy for Russ and me to avoid even talking about the Guild, but now that our senior year at St. Hilaire High loomed—and along with it, the expectation that we’d join the Guild’s Youth Corps along with every other senior—the tension was tearing a fissure in our friendship.
I looked at the clouds, giving myself a minute to embrace the anger I always felt when thinking about the organization that ran our town. My rage settled into a burning in my stomach that sought a focal point. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I forced myself to try to relax by fingering piano scales on the legs of my too-hot suit pants, speeding up and slowing down, hoping to lose myself in the notes. It might have worked had my phone not started to ring. Once. Twice. Three times. Each louder than the one before.
The chanting around me stopped as hundreds of pairs of eyes turned to stare at the person who had ruined their chance to summon Ian’s ghost by forgetting to silence their phone.
I stared at the ground while I reached into my pocket. My phone had been ringing off and on for days, only no one was there when I answered.
The smell of incense, something I’d loved as a kid and that reminded me of my parents, was making me nauseous. In truth, everything in this stupid town was making me sick, so instead of silencing the phone, I turned and threw it as hard as I could into the neighboring park. Then I stalked off after it, all of St. Hilaire’s eyes weighing heavily on my back.
I squirmed in my stiff shirt. My skin was already damp with sweat, and all I wanted was to be able to hold it together until the end of the night when the tourist season officially ended and we could get our lives back.
The sun moved slowly through the trees, giving the leaves an eerie glow. It was hard to know if anyone from town would come to the park after me to make sure I was okay. My bet was on either my younger sister, Laura, or on Russ. No chance of it being my older sister, Harriet. She despised me, and I’d just given her more reason to.
The chanting resumed, recreating the rhythmic song that had been my lullaby as a kid. The smoky smell of incense enveloped me again, but then morphed into one of lemon, crisp and clean.
“Hello, Daniel,” said a shadow.
My stomach clenched. Aside from my parents, and Harriet, who did it to get under my skin, there was only one person who had ever called me Daniel.
“It’s been a while,” the shadow continued. The voice was clipped. Formal. British. A good match for the vintage velvet jacket and silk scarf Tristan had always worn and was still wearing as he stepped into the light. He was in his late teens, as he’d always been. Anyone who saw us would think we were the same age. That being said, no one else had ever admitted being able to see or hear him.
“Go away,” I mumbled. Tristan was my nightmare alone. And he was the last person…ghost…whatever, I had any interest in talking to now.
“Daniel, I understand this might not be the most opportune of times. But I need you to listen to me,” Tristan insisted.
I took a deep breath. Spirits were far more frightened of the living than the living were of them. The dead needed to be questioned carefully. Coddled, if you were trying to avoid scaring them away. “Think of them as cats,” my dad used to say.
But that assumed I wanted to be welcoming.
“Daniel,” he said urgently. “Don’t open the door. Whatever you do, remember not to open the door.”
About ‘Prelude for Lost Souls’ by Helene Dunbar
In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.
Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he’s been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.
His best friend Russ won’t be surprised when Dec leaves — but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He’s made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.
But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec’s main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.
Plus, Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has optioned Dunbar’s We Are Lost and Found.