Title: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
Published: January 10th 2017 by Tor
Page Count: 183
Where’d I Get It: Purchase (ebook)
Rating: 4.5 stars
When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.
This is a short novella, barely topping 200 pages. Still, it had enough breadth and depth for a full length novel, and I find myself wishing there was more to it. Needless to say, Seanan McGuire has captivated me again. I should really go through and mow down her bibliography. I always find myself wavering, afraid to commit and find myself without any more of her writing to devour. Seriously, though, I should just do it.
This story in particular centers around ghosts, which was perfect timing because my friends were in the midst of starting a ghost podcast, so ghosts were on the brain and in the air or whatever analogy you want to put in there, because ghosts are nebulous creatures that can’t be defined by simple worldly analogies.
Jenna is a ghost who died too soon. This puts ghosts into a kind of purgatory until they can steal time from the living enough to reach their death day, in which case they pass over. She died mourning her sister, Patty’s, death, a suicide she thought she should have been able to prevent or notice. As such, she spends her time working at a suicide prevention hotline, ‘earning’ her time and assuaging her morals by preventing other deaths and other grieving families.
She also lives in an apartment full of cats that are wicked old. It’s the Old Friends Senior Cat Sanctuary and it was perfect and precious and immediately made me fall in love with Jenna. She also regularly goes and gets coffee at the local diner, run by a witch with a guitar. The witch gleans her magical influence from corn, which is, if you follow Seanan on Tumblr, possibly the most Seanan McGuire thing to ever exist in one of her books. Still, mysterious corn is always a fun thing to consider, and the witch with the corn was more than just a one trick pony.
There’s a pile of other assorted side characters, including a ghost landlady who was stereotypically New York, and her parrot. There was also a nerd ghost who haunted the comic book shop in the neighborhood, and a witch whose powers came from the rats in the city. Overall a diverse cast of characters, but I expect nothing less.
The plot itself moves at a fast clip once it starts. Ghosts in the city are missing. Someone is stealing them and using them as a veritable fountain of youth. Jenna is forced to confront both the threat and her past in the process and helps force her out of her listless funk of existing.
I will admit I cried and everything about the book that got me to that point was great. I would wholly recommend it.