[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/8463434]
"It's a test," I said. "If I'm crazy, then the power of suggestion will make me see something when I open this door. If there's nothing there, then I am still in control of my senses."
Unless there really was such a thing as ghosts, in which case, my test proved nothing either way.
Ghosts, Sylvie? Really?
No, not really. But it would explain a lot.
"I could stand here all day at this rate." And sooner or later someone was going to come by and wonder why I was standing with my face to the door, talking to myself.
Sylvie is sent to Alabama to deal with the aftermath of a fall that has left her limping, unable to ever dance again. The way that she has to learn to physically, mentally and emotionally deal with this is masterfully woven into the ghost story that is the thrust of this book. For example, she tries to run from what she thinks is a ghost, but has to slowly go down a spiral staircase in reverse, slowing up her escape. The way that she relives the fall seemed painfully realistic to me, and I was glad that the author kept this reminder throughout the story. It's obviously not a common experience, but it kind of kept the whole story grounded in the real world. This had the dual effect of pulling me out of scary moments sometimes and making things that much scarier at others. Sylvie has actual problems that she is dealing with and she is mostly rational, but she still sees ghosts, hears screaming by the river, smells lavender where there is none, etc. Creepy.
Also, there is no shortage of swoon-worthy gentlemen in this story. I was worried for a bit that Sylvie would fall for her new step-brother. Luckily an older British guy, complete with an endearingly bumbling father, and a Southern teenager, who the whole town would love to see paired up with Sylvie because of some old superstition involving both their families, arrive on the scene. They nicely relegate the step-bro into friend territory. The romance part of this paranormal romance is a lot of getting hit on by one guy while lusting after the other, but both guys in this equation take on mythical significance when the real paranormal activity starts in.
That's right. There's a lot more going on here than ghosts.
I don't want to get too spoiler-y and tell you what's going on here (neither does Clement-Moore, for that matter. The more-than-ghosts stuff doesn't make an appearance until the last third of the book at the earliest), just believe me when I say that there is some real magical payout by the end. It is totally worth the wait.
Also, this is a stand-alone book, and I don't mean the start of a series or the suddenly popular trilogy that just happens to stand alone. There is just this one book. No cliffhanger. No waiting to find out what happens. You only need to commit to reading (500+ pages of) a single book to get the whole story. Bliss, I tell you. Bliss.
Book source: Philly Free Library