A young woman on vacation with her parents discovers she can see ghosts in the Stone City of the Crescent Valley. When her parents are taken hostage by a rogue tour guide, she must mediate with one of the ghosts to get them back. But ghosts are the least of her problems in this perilous adventure that takes her back thousands of years, to a time when the Valley flourished with life and a legendary Brotherhood roamed its sands.
There were moments I liked A Time to Tour Ghost City a lot. It felt like reading a different take on early Indiana Jones movies. There was a little bit of action, romance, and treasure hunting in a foreign country packed into the story. I enjoyed the clear disconnect when dealing with people speaking other languages—that felt real. There was a fun scene where they escape from what might have been Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
During this short there were two major characters of note and the story is written from the point of view of a female protagonist. There were a lot of entertaining observations in how the main character viewed the male lead—mostly in the form of eye rolling inner commentary that made me snicker. The book itself was easy to read and felt well-polished from a technical standpoint.
There were two moments that confused the daylights out of me. First, there is a kiss that came out of nowhere. This made me rewind then try to understand where the turning point was. Those interested in the relationship aspect will see self-denial of attraction, a jarring moment where feelings burst through followed by a hot/cold relationship that is left open ended. Second, there was a leap where the main character suddenly accepts that she’s traveled through time to chase ghosts—after being captured by our potential Forty Thieves. Both moments left me flipping pages back and forth rereading to try and understand.
Readers looking for a short story that doesn’t ever disconnect them may not like this work. In the end, I gave the book a three because those moments jarred me excessively. However, taken for what it is, a short story with a pretty cover involving a dreamlike treasure hunt through the past—it has merit. I purchased a copy due to the current price and felt satisfied with the exchange. My final judgment is that this work would have been far more likable in a smoother novella instead of a short story—and could have easily come away with a higher rating.