William Castle is back FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE to terrorize readers with The Prayer, the first volume in his new book series. Unfortunately for him, he was better off dead. The Prayer follows four disenchanted teens who fate has aligned to seek out an ancient manuscript that holds great power. Luckily, they are aided by the mischievous spirit of the great William Castle, who also plays a vital role in their adventure. A tremendous amount of interest has been generated in the book's brilliant marketing campaign, which has allowed the deceased Castle to communicate to his fans through a variety of social mediums, but the book itself is completely unable to capture the imagination of the reader. The action is delayed by the excessive amount of description and long-winded character introductions which only lead to tiring melodramatics. All four of the characters fall under the same basic stereotype of the "misunderstood teen" whose parents just don't "get" them. It is essentially like re-reading the same story four times, which only becomes more difficult when none of them are particularly likable or interesting in any way. Then there is the author, himself: William Castle. Nothing about this book feels authentic to his character. The facts are in place, and there are certainly many references to his work, but it takes constant reminding for the reader to accept Castle as the narrator. He feels so out of place in all of the proceedings that one has to wonder why he was even included in the story at all.
The Prayer seems like an honest effort from a devoted fan that wants more than anything to keep the legend of William Castle alive. This confused ghost tale may find its audience in young readers that can relate to the characters, but the older crowd that actually grew up with William Castle's films are unlikely to connect.