From the very first words, the unrelenting emotion and overwhelming grief grip the reader by the lapels and refuses to let go. There is no preamble. The author shoves you straight into the middle of Josh’s confusion regarding his partner’s death, and holds you down in it until there’s nowhere else to turn. That’s not a bad thing. You’re hardly aware of being so expertly corralled until you’re there, and then, it’s just a short, intense ride through the rest of the story as it plays out around you.
Josh doesn’t know how to process Kevin’s violent death, a crime that seems to have been inspired by hate. His palpable feelings twist and turn until neither he nor the reader knows which end is up, so when Kevin’s ghost starts visiting him, it’s disconcerting at best. There’s absolutely no reason to distrust Josh’s fearful reaction to it, and the time it takes for him to come to grips with the possibility that, yes, he’s not crazy, only serves to further cement my belief in how hard this loss has hit him. This reaction, so real, so human, provides the fulcrum upon which the rest of the story balances. Because I can believe that, I can believe in Kevin, and the plot that follows, even if it seems to be secondary to the more relevant task of processing his grief.
The suspense portion of the story, that of satisfying Kevin’s need for revenge, felt rushed in comparison to the careful unfolding of Josh’s emotions. That holds it back a little, as the other players almost seem extraneous. The details supporting the so-called real world, too, never rang as vibrantly true as Josh and his feelings, but they were certainly more than adequate to keep the story believable and moving forward. The true thrust of this novella is Josh and Kevin’s love story – and I’m deliberately choosing to use that term rather than romance – and for this alone, it provides a poignant, compelling read.
Thanks so much to Book Utopia Mom. Hearing about how someone liked one of my stories just makes my day. 😀