A Romance that features two body snatching ghosts told in all its simplistic glory.
A Certain Slant of Light
by Laura Whitcomb
Graphia | Library Binding, 279 pages
This copy was a little hard to find. I had to order and then wait at least three weeks for Amazon to ship my copy. I’ve never read a book in this format before. The font used was a little old-fashioned and the paper – a little on the thin side. It almost felt like a Bible (bear with me, there is a point to this rambling). This format was a good complement to Laura Whitcomb’s writing.
Her prose was classical that suited well with the ages of our ghosts. Helen had been around for more than a hundred years to James’ half. It was beautifully written, expressive and yet very simple. It was in the clean writing that readers would be able to appreciate the book’s atmosphere and the characters’ emotional state. It was a haunting of a different kind; not the scary, hair-raising kind of way but a feeling of emptiness you feel right along with Helen when she thinks about all the things she misses when she was alive. It’s missing the smell, taste, and feel of being substantially alive.
The story opens with Helen flitting from one host to another and the struggles she goes through with each transition. Whitcomb descriptively relays the feeling of helplessness and doom of her drowning in freezing water, heavy with mud. Helen finds solace and comfort with each hosts; and even inspire a writer like a muse. And with each passing of her hosts, she loses a friend, a companion, and love in differing degrees.
When she’s cleaved on to Mr. Brown, she’s become his muse. Carefully whispering words of encouragement and inspiration as she follows him around like a shadow. In his English class, she meets a living boy who seem to be able to see her. Thus begin an improbable romance between a ghost and the living. In James (Billy), she learned that a Light like her has the ability to occupy a body so long as the soul has vacated the vessel. This is where readers might find this novel whimsical, may be even a bit thin on the details. But I enjoyed this take on the usual ghost story. It featured characters who’d resented their lives – broken and empty in their paltry existence. Billy was a troubled teen junkie, while Jenny had long checked out of the asphyxiating life with her religious parents.
Some may find Whitcomb’s writing a bit formal but it was oddly fitting for this novel. I’m also a bit surprised that it’s being marketed as YA when both James and Helen are on the adult side. Even their relationship took off faster than the norm in this genre. I think the instalment might be more age-appropriate since it would be the story of how Billy and Jenny would cope with the knowledge that someone had lived their lives in their absences.
My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars