Book Review

A Deeper Look # 2

Taking a deeper look into The Dead Room by Heather Graham doing a fun reader’s challenge presented by Gabriela Pereira creator of the diymfa. There will be spoilers, warning for those who have not read this book.

She talks to dead people…

A year ago, archaeologist Leslie MacIntyre barely survived an explosion that took the life of her fiancé, Matt Connolly. Since then she’s slowly come to terms with both her loss and an unsettling ability to communicate with ghosts, a “gift” received in the wake of her brush with death.

The Protagonist

Leslie MacIntyre -Archaeologist.

Who is actually telling the story?

Leslie is telling the story in this book.

Which character’s story do you want to follow?

As a reader, I want to follow Leslie when she is helping the dead and herself move on from the tragedies they experienced and figure out how and why they are stuck and how she helps them move on. These stories lead to helping solve the cases of missing prostitutes and a woman. 

What type of character is your protagonist?

Leslie is the underdog. She is someone who needed to rise to the occasion and do something extraordinary. Leslie supposed to have died in the blast. Matt, Leslie’s fiance, sent her back. 

What is the character’s deepest desire?

Leslie’s deepest desire is to be with Matt. She sees Matt in his cousin Joe and in her dreams when she sleeps at the Hastings House where he died.  She stays there because of him and it is close to a dig she is working at.

What does this character want?

To be with Matt

The Five Promises

At the beginning of a book, the author makes five promises to the reader. These are a character, voice, world, problem, and event. Do these promises appear early in the story, or the author choose to delay any of them?


Who are we meant to root for?

We are meant to root for Leslie.

Who is the character at the center of the story?

I believe the character at the center of the story is Joe. He is a private detective working on a case to look for Genevieve O’Brien. He is also the cousin of Matt who was Leslie’s fiancé. His case gets him involved in another case involving missing prostitutes.


Voice is what connects the reader to the storyteller.

Whose voice is telling the story? Is it a character in the story or a narrator outside the story looking in?

Leslie is telling the story.


Where does the story take place? Is a realistic, contemporary world, or an imagined fantasy world?

This world is a contemporary world. This story takes place in Manhattan at an archaeological dig site. 

How is the author showing us the world of this story right from the start?

If one is a reader of prologues, the story starts in Manhattan after a building blows up. Leslie groggily hears the commotion as she was near the location of the bomb. If one goes right into the story, the story takes place a year after the tragic accident and the death of Matt, her fiancé. She is out of state at an archaeological dig with the help of a ghost Priest locating the unmarked graves.  


What immediate obstacle is the character facing? This obstacle might be directly related to the central conflict of the book, or it might be a separate but related problem.

The obstacle Leslie is facing is not letting Matt her Fiancé move on herself even though it has been only a year after the accident. She insists on staying at the Hasting House where he died at and because of her new gift of seeing ghosts; she wants and is insisting on seeing his spirit. 


Every story needs a reason to start where it does.

Why does this story begin at this exact moment in time? Why do you think the author chose this as the opening for the book?

If one is a reader of prologues, it is to show how and why Matt, her fiancé, insists on her not crossing over and how she ends up with the gift of seeing ghosts. If you are not, I believe Heather Graham started this book a year after, was to show the readers how Leslie is using her gift when she is at her job (archaeological digs.) And how she came to learn and accept it.

The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is a decision point that moves us from Act 1 to Act 2. This is one of the main landmark moments in the three-act story structure.

What is the external event that sets up the inciting incident?

I am thinking it is when the ghost of the little girl Mary shows up. She shows Leslie where her mother is buried. Because of this, Leslie finds her mother and discovers a churchyard.

What internal choice does the protagonist make that they act on to pivot us into Act II?

By accepting her gift, Leslie could see and speak to the ghost child.  

What makes this moment a point of no return? Why can’t the protagonist go back to the status quo?

By finding this churchyard, this makes Robert Adair nervous and starts targeting Leslie. 

How does the protagonist’s choice affect you, the reader, and your feelings toward this character?

I think it was neat on how Leslie accepted her gift and used it at her digs.

Supporting Cast

Supporting characters are not secondary to the protagonist. While they might not own the spotlight, the supporting cast has an important job. They need to help the protagonist move along on their journey.

Here are five supporting character archetypes:

The Villain

The Love Interest

The BFF, Sidekick, or Entourage 

The Mentor

The Fool

Which of these supporting character archetypes you see reflected in the book you have chosen. Are they all present? How does each of these supporting characters add tension to the story or support the protagonist’s journey?

The Villain

Robert Adair, a detective 

The Love Interest

The love interest is both Matt, Leslie’s fiancé, and Matt’s cousin Joe. He is a private detective working on a case to look for Genevieve O’Brien.

The BFF, Sidekick, or Entourage 

Brad Verdun. He has been a friend of Leslie’s since college. Ever since she denied going out with him, they have more of a sibling relationship.  

The Mentor

Professor David Laymon is an archeologist and was Leslie and Brad’s professor at college. 

The Fool

Nikki Blackhawk and Adam Harrison. They help Leslie with her gift of seeing ghosts. They came to stay with her at the Hastings House, where Matt died when Leslie has a dig close to the house. Nikki tells Leslie she may not see or communicate with Matt because he could have crossed over. Leslie could dream of him, because she is not ready to fully move on and accept he is gone. 

The Midpoint

Temporary Triumph

This is a moment where the character appears to get what they want, but they realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. They begin to have second thoughts about whether they really wanted that thing in the first place.

False Failure

This seems like a rock bottom moment where it seems like things can’t possibly get any worse for the protagonist… until they do get worse.

Is there a scene where the protagonist experiences a moment of self-reflection?

I saw nothing like a self- reflection for Leslie unless it is when she is eating with Joe.

What happens in that mirror moment and how close is it to the center?

The mirror moment is roughly in the middle and could be when Leslie and Joe are eating after they release Leslie from the hospital.  

Theme & Thematic Elements


Could you sum up a book you have selected in a single sentence? If so, this is your theme.

Maybe the theme is not everything, and everyone is as they seem. 

What evidence can you draw from the text that helps support this? What details clued you in to this being the theme?

Leslie see’s ghosts, and only Nikki and Adams know this. So she has found the churchyards. Joe looks like Matt, but he is not and he is a caring person but hides behind his private detective persona. Robert Adair is a detective, and he is the one is behind the missing prostitutes and Genevieve O’Brien. 

Thematic elements

What imagery or detail does the author use to underscore that theme? How does the author use these thematic elements to emphasize or illustrate the theme?

When Leslie talks to the Pastor ghost at the beginning of the book. She sees the ghosts at the Hasting house and at Joe’s apartment. She also sees the ghost child at the dig site. 

How does the author use these thematic elements to emphasize or illustrate the theme?

The dead room. The feeling of being watched. The dreams she has with Matt.

The Ending

What happens at the end?

Leslie finds Genevieve in a secret tunnel. The Dead Room is a servant’s pantry where Leslie found the body of the woman who haunted the house. There is a secret entry in the servant’s pantry that connects to these tunnels. In these tunnels, Robert Adair is hiding his victims.

What scene represents the climax?

Nikki and Leslie hear a crying sound coming from the dead room but could find nothing. So, they both go outside and walk around the block several times to find where the crying is coming from. During this time, Joe discovers that Brad Verdun went out with Genevieve and also hired prostitutes. Joe thinks he is behind it all. He does not trust him, and Joe goes after Brad and starts interrogating him. Nikki and Leslie stumbles onto another tunnel leading directly under the dead room of the Hastings house. 

What is the outcome of the story?

Leslie get’s shot and ends up dying by Robert Adair. 

In other words, does the character get what they want and do they still want it?

I would say Leslie got what she wanted, which is being back with Matt. The ending was tragic for Joe, who wanted to be with Leslie romantically. 

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