Gin Palace by Tracy Whitwell (book review).

A sequel to ‘Accidental Medium’ by Tracy Whitwell, ‘Gin Palace’ is about talking to the dead you didn’t know you wanted. Tanz is an actress first and foremost but life and career has not been kind to her and its squeaky bum time. Previously, she took a job in a new age shop called The Magic Pot, in a fallow period and that caused her discovery of her unique gifts in ‘Accidental Medium’.

She’s an aural medium and has a spirit guide, her dead friend, Frank. But the Magic Pot is closed. She’s shut herself off from the spirits (those kind anyway). Things are so dire that she’s had to do some supply-teaching (the horror!). Consumed by despair, Tanz has retreated to bed. She just need’s a wake-up call.

Amazingly, her acting career receives an uplift and a chance to spend time on her home turf of Newcastle. She is offered a part in an on-going murder drama. The lead is a bit of a diva, though, and it could be hard going. Luckily, she has her mum and dad to keep it real and her best friend, Milo, to get slaughtered with.

There’s no escape from the other kind of spirits neither as a spooky ghost walk makes her open up once again to the dark side. She had enough the first time round but, surely with dead Frank and Live Milo, she’s got enough support to see off the spooks?

This is a funny and informative book with lots of vim and vigour. It spares no one from the wardrobe, like lead actor Jamie to the frozen-faced matriarch Caroline. The description of her face ‘as frozen as an Eskimo’s ice-skate’ made me hoot. It’s also a lot kinder than it sounds with real insight into what it can be like for actors when the phone stops ringing.

I loved this and the previous book and it’s great to have a coming to mid-life woman as the hero. I’m a bit worried when she hits the menopause but it will no doubt lead to even more japes. Those hot flushes can probably be quite helpful when you hit a cold spot. ‘Gin Palace’ is obviously a story about the supernatural and it does get quite dark but the humour is great and I’m thinking there’s plenty more in the tank for Tanz to have further high-spirited adventures.

Sue Davies

February 2023

(pub: Pan Macmillan, 2023. 304 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-52908-763-5)

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