A mysterious story about a gifted psychic, and a ton of ghosts
This book is part metaphysical treatise, part murder mystery, part ghost story, and all so incredibly visual. The author sets the scenes with a Gothic, visual creepiness that makes the settings spring from the page, so that as a reader, I felt immersed in the tale at times right along with the characters, as a witness.
Angel is a young orphaned boy who is hit by lightning and has an extreme near death experience. It leaves him, as occultists would say, straddling the veil, often slipping into the realm of spirit so completely that he loses total touch with reality. The story chronicles his experience growing up with this affliction, and how he learns to use his gifts, or not.
It was quite easy to suspend disbelief in psychic phenomena reading the book and explore what it would really be like if spirits DID talk to you – telling your privileged information, and constantly wanting you to do their bidding and act on their behalf. Poor Angel can see and hear spirits as clearly as the living. How distracting that must be! He can also see just a bit clearly into the future at times, and how tempting it is to give himself competitive advantages with this gift. He’s smart though, and does his best not to attract attention.
When a student at his school disappears, he must deal with her ghost pleading with him to go to the police about her murderer. He doesn’t want to, because he knows no one will believe he’s had to witness the murder solely in his mind. The story really takes off at this point on a ride that at times made me think that Angel was deranged, the cops were deranged- maybe everyone was. For a while, a lot of really interesting things were going on, but I couldn’t figure out just what- a true mystery.
The ending didn’t pull punches and avoided the cliché tactic of sparing all the good guys any harm, but it was neatly wrapped up, and satisfying.
Sprinkled throughout the book, Angel contemplated ideas in modern physics about entanglement and such things as spooky action at a distance, and how that might be connected to topics such as consciousness and spiritualism. These asides of quantum speculation are not solely based on New Age thought, but also include bits of folk lore and tenets on subjects such as possession and shamanism, which push this book deeper into metaphysics and occultism than most books would normally go- just as Angel was pushed into the realm of spirit by his accident.
Some readers might find the book a bit long, as the metaphysical speculation at times feels less like fiction and story, but I very much enjoyed it, and found myself slowing down when reading it to think about the topics. I think most readers who have a deep interest in the supernatural will enjoy it.