The Greaser & the Ghostwhisperer: Slow Dance in Purgatory | Review + Author Interview

Slow Dance in Purgatory: Purgatory, Book 1 - Amy Harmon, Emily Woo Zeller, Tantor Audio

A Sad, Sweet & Sassy YA Ghost Story


In 1958, a rumble goes down outside the brand-new high school in Honeyville, Texas. Chaos ensues, a life is lost, and Johnny Kinross disappears. But in 2010, someone finds him. Orphaned at the age of 10, 17-year-old Maggie O'Bannon finally finds a permanent home with her elderly aunt in a small Texas town. Working part-time as a school janitor, she becomes enmeshed in a 50-year-old tragedy where nothing is as it seems and the boy of her dreams might vanish when the bell rings


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Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible. It is available in various formats from a wide range of retailers.



Slow Dance in Purgatory by Amy Harmon, read by Emily Woo Zeller, published by Tantor Audio (2014) / Length: 7 hrs 27 min



This is Book #1 of 2 in the "Purgatory" duology. Both books are available on audio.



She isn't actually a Ghost Whisper, since the ghosts she sees are mostly just echoes that don't interact with her. But she has been able to see them since she was young.


I like most everything about this one, and only wish we had gotten more of the wonderful interactions between Johnny & Maggie.



Maggie O'Bannon: A not-too-tough former foster kid who loves to dance. She doesn't really fit in, but finally has a support system and doesn't want to lose it.


Johnny Kinross: He was a bad boy in the typical 50's sense of the word, tuff. He was never a jerk or abuser. He tried to take good care of his mother & little brother. He has matured even more after spending 50 years fading in & out and never able to go anywhere. He tries to do right by Maggie.


Maggie & Johnny: I really like this relationship despite its seemingly impossible nature. They spend time together, talk, have fun, and support each other.


I love Gus, the elderly Janitor Maggie works with.



This takes place in a High School in the small town of Honeyville, Texas. There are flashbacks to the same town in the '50s. What I noticed when listening was a good sense of the colors and sounds of the time.


As for the paranormal aspect, as I said above, most ghosts are just echoes. But several incidents are related in which a ghost (besides Johnny, who isn't sure what he is) actually interacts with someone.



The beginning is an extremely poignant exploration of Johnny's condition - stuck, often alone, never a part of things. After that we get a flashback to how he ended up that way. The book uses quite a few flashbacks and people telling stories about what happened to explore his life before, as well as those of few other characters (who are now elderly or dead).


The ending is a kind of cliffhanger.



  • The Chapter Headings - which are all 1950's song titles
  • Maggie & Johnny make their own drive-in theater
  • My favorite quote:
“Why would you even try to stay away?!”  Maggie interrupted, as impassioned as he.  “What did I do?”


“It’s not what YOU did!  It’s what I’m doing to you!”  Johnny gaped at her, incredulous.


“Maggie – if this were 1958, and none of this had ever happened, and I was just a guy and you were my girl…..I would hold on to you and never let you go,” Johnny implored huskily, “But it isn’t 1958…and I am not just a guy, in love with his girl.”

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Moderate swearing & innuendo / Shad's crush. This relationship has enough troubles, they don't need a third wheel. / The bullying teacher (whose father was apparently also a bullying teacher). Anyone who constantly taunts a dyslexic student and sets them up to fail should be fired.


OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: Johnny's mother is said to have been having an affair with the (married) mayor. / He made out with a teacher in order to pass her class. / Gus' daughter (Shad's mother) is a drug addicted prostitute whose behavior humiliates them.



Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes, I think that Gus' voice especially suits him. And Shad's voice is teenage creaky without being annoying / Accents = This book takes place in Texas, but there aren't really any accents / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual, and it was a tiny touch slow.



Slow Dance in Purgatory by Amy Harmon, read by Emily Woo Zeller, published by Tantor Audio (2014) / Length: 7 hrs 27 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • What is your favorite High School ghost story? (Mine is The Ghost & The Goth by Stacey Kade, but this is a close second.)
  • What would you do (besides read every book in the library) if you were trapped inside a High School?
  • Do you like accents in your audiobooks? (See the interview below for the author's answer)


  • If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?

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Bonus Author Interview


Tell us something about your lead character(s) that we don't already know. [Exclusive]

Johnny Kinross was modeled after Patrick Swayze.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Since Patrick isn't available, maybe Dominic Sherwood (Shadowhunters). He'd be perfect.

If you were to spend a day with your lead character, what would the two of you do?

Dance . . . duh. ;-)

Audiobook / eBook / Paperbooks? Which is your favorite and why?

Hmm. I love them all for different reasons. Paper books have a smell that can't be beat. Ebooks are so easy to take anywhere, and audiobooks allow me to accomplish something and still read. 

What are your pet peeves when listening to an audiobook?

Endless accents. With my most recent novel, releasing on audio/pb/ebook simultaneously on December 1st through Lake Union Publishing, the story takes place in Italy during WWII. There are several languages and characters from differing countries in this book because of the world war element. I really hope the accents are lightly done.

What motivated you to sit down and write your first book?

I wanted to prove to myself I could.

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