Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is my latest read by Seanan McGuire and again it is a book that, even thought it’s fairly short, is packed with emotion and characters that you can’t help yourself but warm to. Basically this is a ghost story but one that is completely different than anything I’ve ever read about before.
The story starts with a funeral. Patty left her small hometown to find her own fairy tale in New York. Unfortunately, the dream didn’t pan out and, unable to find happiness Patty took her own life. Her sister Jenna, struggling to cope with the death of her beloved sister, rushes out into the night and meets with an untimely end!
We then leap forty years forwards. Patty is living in New York, volunteering at a crisis helpline centre, with a day job serving coffee. Yes, I said Patty was living. Well, to be honest, she’s a ghost, but, like the other ghosts that live in the City, she has substance. Basically, Patty died too soon, in a freak occurrence and like other people who died before their time she has become a ghost and must serve time until she reaches her own ‘time’.
Now, added to this we also have witches. Witches and ghosts have a strange relationship and don’t often become friends – for very good reason. Witches are alive and kicking and are only too well aware of the benefits they can glean from ghosts. You see ghosts can knock the years off a person simply by touching them. As you may imagine this makes ghosts an attractive proposition for people – no more botox or beauty treatments – simply turn back the hands of time and experience the fountain of youth by ensnaring your own personal ghost.
I won’t elaborate on the plot other than to say I love the ideas that McGuire has come up with here and the way she weaves her ideas with superstitions. She seems to be an expert on tugging on heartstrings and this story is, of course, no exception in that respect.
The setting is modern and urban and one that we’re all familiar with except of course for the ‘living dead’ walking amongst us. This is such an unusual ghost story. There are no spectres, no shaking chains (although strangely enough I did think of Jacob Marley and his purgatory) and yet I find the thought of the dead walking amongst us, living, working and sharing the same space in complete annonymity – it’s a tiny little bit chilling isn’t it! But, in a strange twist it seems like the ghosts are more at threat from us than the reverse.
In terms of the characters, well, even though this is a relatively short story it’s very easy to like Jenna and to have a good deal of sympathy towards her. We have Brenda, who is a corn witch, she shouldn’t be friends with Jenna and yet she is. Sophia is another witch. She seems to live rough on the streets and doesn’t always seem coherent but she has quite a fascinating storyline that will be revealed in due course. Without doubt though, for me, the show stealer was Jenna’s landlady Delia and her pet bird Avocado. I loved them.
This is going to be a fairly short review, only because I don’t want to give away too much. This is a book about give and take – it’s not always as simple as it seems, some times people are very giving and some times people take more than they deserve. This is a great story, full of imagination and heart and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Seanan McGuire is certainly becoming one of my go to authors and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
I received a copy from the publisher courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.