September 05, 2006

The Quick and the Light

I never know exactly what to expect when I see on a book's cover that it's the author's first novel. I don't know whether I unconsciously read them with a more forgiving eye, but it seems like I've encountered quite a few excellent first novels lately. One of these is Laura Whitcomb's unusual and suspenseful romance, A Certain Slant of Light.

The most captivating thing about this book was its treatment of the "rules" of being dead, and the rules of being a ghost--being "Light." And the author very thoughtfully challenges the tenets of religious belief about death at the same time that she introduces and integrates the rules of being Light. Helen, the narrator, has no memory of what she might have done to end up in her personal hell, generations ago, but she has discovered that there are things the Light can and cannot do. The Light cannot stray far from the host they are haunting, lest they be plunged back into their hell. And the Light cannot be seen by the Quick.

Except that someone has seen Helen. A previously unremarkable boy in the English class of Mr. Brown, Helen's host, looks right at her one day, and he knows she is there, standing in the classroom. They are drawn to one another, and she discovers the secret reason why he alone is able to see her, to see those who are Light.

The writing is very sensitive, very tactile--Helen is keenly aware of those aspects of Quick life she will never be able to regain. Though she can see and hear the living, feelings, smells, tastes are all inaccessible to her. Until her new friend lets her in on a valuable secret--a way for her to once again experience living, and for them to be together in the physical world. Is it worth the cost? If you enjoy romance and/or ghost stories, read it and find out!

3 comments:

gail said...

I thought this was a terrific book, and I don't care for romances and I can take or leave ghost stories. Really marvelous.

a. fortis said...

Yes, I was surprised, myself--I wasn't incredibly drawn in by the premise because there are a plethora of unremarkable ghost stories out there (though I do enjoy a well-written ghost tale now and then); and I'm not a huge fan of romances, either, unless there's something else interesting about the story. But this was nicely done--I'm glad I made it past the cover blurb.

tanita s. davis said...

I just love the use of the oldfashioned phrase, "the quick and the dead." I, too, am NOT a big romance fan, nor a ghost story fan, but this sounds readable! Thanks for sharing!