Ever since Riley Thomas, reluctant medium extraordinaire, accidentally released a malevolent spirit from a Ouija board when she was thirteen, she’s taken a hard pass on scary movies, haunted houses, and cemeteries. So when her best friend pressures her into spending a paranormal investigation weekend at the infamous Jordanville Ranch—former home of deceased serial killer Orin Jacobs—Riley is one-hundred-percent not ready.
Shortly after their arrival at the ranch, the spirit of a little boy contacts Riley; a child who went missing—and was never found—in 1973.
In order to put the young boy’s spirit to rest, she has to come to grips with her ability. But how can she solve a mystery that happened a decade before she was born? Especially when someone who knows Orin’s secrets wants to keep the truth buried—no matter the cost.
CW/TW: Adult language, sexual situations, discussions about sexual assault
The synopsis for The Forgotten Child by Melissa Erin Jackson really drew me in. It was one of those books that I knew I had to read. I even pre-ordered the book. Luckily, I won it on a Goodreads giveaway, so I had the chance to read it before it was released.
I found the pacing to be fairly consistent for The Forgotten Child. For the most part, it was a fast paced read which I thoroughly enjoyed! There were a few times that the pacing slowed down a bit, and I was wishing for it to speed up again. However, those moments weren't very often.
The plot for The Forgotten Child has been done before, but Ms. Jackson made the story line interesting enough for me to enjoy the story. Riley, the main character, gets roped in to going to a house that has been featured on a popular ghost hunting show and known to be very haunted. It was also the site of some very brutal murders. Riley is reluctant to go due to her ability to see and interact with ghosts and because of something that happened when she was 10 years old involving a spirit. While there, she interacts with the ghost of a little boy as well as the infamous serial killer who used to live there. After getting completely freaked out by a ghostly encounter with the serial killer's ghost, she leaves early to go back home. However, the ghost boy has followed her home. She feels sorry for the little boy and vows to find out what happened to him. Finding out what happened to him won't be easy, and it will put her in grave danger. While trying to uncover the mystery of the little boy, she also is juggling her love life with her new boyfriend. I felt like there were no plot twists, but there were plenty of spooky moments! There was one point in the story where I was really regretting my decision to read The Forgotten Child late at night due to a very spooky scene! Even though this book is part of a series, there were no cliffhangers. All of my questions were answered by the end of the book which I was thankful for. I wish this focused more on Riley's abilities and on the ghostly aspect instead of Riley's relationship with Michael, but that's just a personal preference. I also could have done without the sex scenes between Riley and Michael as I felt like they didn't really fit the tone of the book. Perhaps that's just a me thing though.
The world building for The Forgotten Child was written fairly well. There were some times where I was wondering about the dialogue in the book. Some of the choices of phrases used were a bit cheesy. I hadn't heard anyone use some of the phrases used in the book ever! However, the dialogue was still very believable for the most part. I loved the way some of The Forgotten Child was set a creepy ranch in a spooky house. I do wish more of the action took place here, but I still enjoyed the book.
I enjoyed the characters in The Forgotten Child. Melissa Erin Jackson did a fantastic job in making each character feel like a real person. Not one of the characters was lacking. I found each one to be interesting. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Riley and Michael. I enjoyed their banter a lot even if I wish the book would have focused less on their physical and romantic relationship. I also enjoyed reading about Jade and Riley's friendship. You could feel how strong their friendship was. I loved how Miss Jackson wrote about Orin and Hank. I could feel the evilness of both Orin and Hank oozing from the pages! Both of them made fantastic evil characters.
Trigger warnings include a lot of swearing, violence, a few graphic (but not too graphic) sex scenes including a non-graphic rape, murder including child murder, drinking, an evil spirit, and other scenes dealing with the occult.
All in all, The Forgotten Child was a good read. I loved how spooky it was as well as how great the characters were written. I would definitely recommend The Forgotten Child by Melissa Erin Jackson to those 18+ who love a good paranormal mystery. I will definitely be reading the next book in the Riley Thomas Mystery series.