Writers enjoy having the power of God over their characters, but what if they also attract the forces of the devil? What if the power of life and death in a fiction translates into a ‘real’ existence, if some elements of the authors omnipresence on the page slips into physical life? The book is very much paranormal, some of a magical realism bend and some with a quasi-religious one. Through excepting the premise that many good versus evil, religious/paranormal boundaries collide in mystical ways one can enjoy the book. Most of us have little trouble suspending belief to enjoy a good yarn. I preferred to read this is the imagined world of a psychotic personality in total meltdown. This was easy given that the book is written in first person. I enjoyed this as a false reality from which we are supposed to hope the character voice, Alexa, will escape. I was a bit underwhelmed by the lengths Bell went to in exploring the threads of the story as it drew to the end, as for me the detail rather reduced the power of resolution. Climatic events, both in life and books, are best enjoyed without distracting reflections on the rationality of the mechanics.
This book is well written, describing Alexa’s world in a way that easily paints strong scenes in one’s mind. As a writer, I can appreciate the mind games as Alexa the well-established, if quite famous, author, struggles to complete her trilogy. Some of the other characters, especially Margaret, her book editor, are very well-rounded. I may have enjoyed the book more with a few chapters written from the mind of Margaret, watching the mental breakdown of her number one selling author.
This is the second book of Bell’s I have read. She is a very gifted writer who might achieve greater success with psychological thrillers without the distraction of paranormal elements. Provided, of course, she could find the discipline of scripting her stories without occasionally falling for the convenient escapes of the unrestrained supernatural.
It should be obvious that I enjoyed this book more for the qualities of Bell’s descriptive writing than the story it tells. However, I am sure that those that relish the buy-in to the paranormal will find this to be a great read. There are plenty of original elements as well as standard themes of the paranormal and mystical realism genres. We have here a, ‘watch what you wish for’ morality tale. The allegorical foundations of the theme resonate throughout. The four stars rather than five isn’t a devaluation of the Bell’s work. Rather, it reflects my view that this book, despite all its qualities, didn’t do talent full justice.