This review was a long time coming, but somehow I neglected it. Anyway, American Ghost Jack was not what I was expecting; it was much better than what I expected! I will be ranking this on story, characters, writing, art, and world building.
Summary: Young Ma Go-eun and her father are about to be evicted from the haunted house they’ve run throughout the years. But Go-eun is not about to let the park owner demolish their haunted house and her memories of her childhood and her mother. She resolves to go to the United States to surpass trials and get a million dollar cash prize awarded to those who can survive a stay in Ghost Jack’s House.
Story: 4/5: The plot may not sound like the most unique story in the world, but it is truly the writing that makes it special. The story starts off simply. It’s more like a classic haunted house story where everyone involved has a secret or dark backstory. But as it goes on, the genre becomes more paranormal, romance, mystery, with touches of thriller. It has a great pace, and doesn’t feel too rushed or too slow.
Themes included in this story are the consequences of obsession, loneliness, death and grieving, mental health, true love, and devotion. Unlike many stories that people compare to the likes of Beauty and the Beast, the male lead’s actions in the beginning are not romanticized or glorified (thankfully). They are shown to be unhealthy and the result of extreme isolation and some likely mental health problems. So no worries, there is no Stockholm Syndrome here! (Go-Eun doesn’t tolerate any of the beginning behavior).
I also have to give a kudos for the writer’s ability to blend so many genres into one; horror, thriller, paranormal, romance, mystery, drama…yet each are flawlessly balanced with each other, and one genre never feels overdone or the opposite, neglected. That’s talent.
Characters: 4.5/5: There are really just four characters that get a lot of attention by the writer, but boy, do they get a lot of focus and development. Even that one irritating character (you’ll know who I mean) gets development and a plot twist. But the two characters who stand out are the leads; Go-Eun Ma and Jack Bland.
Go-Eun is a fantastic protagonist. The whole reason she goes to the Dunn mansion is because of her love for her and her father’s haunted house at the amusement park. She’s even known as the woman who’s even scarier than that haunted house, as she had a traumatic incident in her past that left her emotions incredibly repressed, and she also lost her ability to do one of her greatest talents: singing. Because of her repressed emotions, she’s also able to keep a cool head and remains logical and analytical, one of the few guests who rarely, if ever becomes frightened. One of the interesting things about Go-Eun is that you begin to care about her after five episodes, even while knowing next to nothing about her.
Jack Bland is one of the more interesting characters I’ve seen for a while. While he was alive, he was one of the most famous musicians around, which left his huge fan base shocked when he died suddenly. He’s been stuck in the Dunn Manion for ten years, and it’s revealed that he has made a deal to create his best song ever, in exchange for being brought back to life so he can be with the woman he was..rather obsessed with, honestly. Unlike most stories that have a Beauty and the Beast vibe, his reasons for doing what he does is not romanticized. It truly isn’t just Go-Eun who changes him; it’s an internal thing that’s been in the process for years that she manages to bring out.
Writing: 5/5: As I said, the story would be fairly predictable if it weren’t for the amazing writing. The author always has a twist up their sleeve, and they are good twists that contribute to the plot, not shock value that produces cheap emotion in the reader that seems to be abundant in thriller nowadays. Each twist adds something to the story, and it always makes logical sense. As I said earlier, it also has a good, steady pace, neither too fast or too slow.
The themes dealt here are fairly heavy, as I mentioned in the story section. But they are all covered sensitively, and while they aren’t sugar coated, they aren’t in your face or relentless. This doesn’t come across as an overly dark story; although it has its serious, more horror times, there is also its light spots, especially with the budding romance between the two leads and even some humor. The small touches of humor helped break up the dark areas nicely, and didn’t detract from the plot whatsoever.
And can I just say this…The Chemistry. The two leads have so much of it, it was amazing! In many romance stories, the two leads have a lack of chemistry, but that was so not a problem here. In fact, they were incredibly shippable, which is even more impressive when you look at how badly their relationship started in the beginning. I may not be much of a romantic, but when there’s chemistry (and usually when it isn’t the main genre, or balances more than one genre) I am very excited.
Art: 5/5: The art may not seem like anything special at first, but just give it time; it becomes so beautiful, so stunning and detailed, that part of the reason I made a Tapastic account was to see the completed pictures. It can be thrilling, detailed in its horror and the ghosts that lurk in the Dunn mansion, and increase suspense wonderfully. But it can be dizzingly beautiful and romantic, adding to the chemistry and finding beauty in a somewhat gloomy atmosphere. It becomes absolutely breathtaking and detail oriented. If I ever make another Top Ten Beautiful Webtoons/Webcomics list, this will definitely be there somewhere.
World building: 4.5/5: The world of the Dunn mansion is detailed and slowly explained. It’s a plot twist in itself, so I can’t give much away. But it’s twisty and logical, and is clarified as the story goes along.
- CHEMISTRY: In so many pieces of fiction where romance becomes a leading factor, I typically find the chemistry to be lacking. That’s not a problem here. The chemistry between the characters is amazing and packed with so many genuine feels. And their pasts make you ship it even more.
- Attention to small details: Looking back, there was always some foreshadowing to a few of the bigger plot twists, but it’s carefully hidden; you have to really pay attention and focus. It makes the reader take in more of the story, rather than simply skimming through it. I love all the detail.
- Twists with value: Again, there are so many mysteries and thrillers nowadays where the twists are there simply for shock value and emotional manipulation, therefore making little sense at best and no sense at worst. Here, each twist is thought out and adds depth to the story, adding real emotions for the reader.
- Lack of availability of season 2: Easily the biggest flaw, you can only read season 2 on the Tapastic app; it’s locked otherwise, and no other sites have it available. I guess the author had had some legality problems with pirating (not 100% sure, but it makes sense), and only Tapastic has it translated.
- Is Sebastian’s twist too easy?: I recently got Icebreaker694 into this comic, and she said she was able to guess Sebastian’s identity…I wasn’t, (although I did guess) but I guess it depends on the person…
- The early characters: there were other characters at the mansion besides Go-Eun, Cindy, and Aiden, (the three main guests) but they were forgettable in the long run, despite being interesting with their secrets and links to death. I wish they could’ve developed more, rather than end up being filler or stock characters.
Final rating: 5/5.
This is the first five star rating I’ve ever given, and clearly, I think it’s deserved. You can find the comic here: American Ghost Jack. You should read this if you like horror, paranormal, romance, mystery, and thriller. Please read it then; I need people to fangirl to!