“… find the most miserable, tortured creatures, the ones looking to escape from their realities, and I attach to their pain, their weeping, their doubtful silence.”
If you’re thinking this will be a light fluffy read, it isn’t. It’s full of pain, hurt, and terror as author Ryan Douglass tackles some incredibly difficult topics full-on and unapologetically. This is definitely a multi-genre read and I loved it.
Jake just doesn’t fit in at his new school – for one, he’s black, two, he’s gay and three, he see’s spirits. A black boy in the midst of white privilege and classism just trying to get by on the daily when one of the spirits he sees begins to interact in a way that Jake’s never seen – the spirit of Sawyer Doon, school shooter has taken notice of Jake and he’s determined to have him.
Mr. Douglass did such an amazing job with the characters! The making of a monster is so evident as we learn about Sawyer’s life and afterlife, what drove an already sick boy to even sicker actions. And then there’s Jake, hiding everything that makes him Jake, he isn’t without his own pain. He stuffs everything that is different about him down until it chokes him. The secondary characters are developed well – just enough to give me a strong found family feel along with the sense that we aren’t always hiding our secrets as well as we think. Everyone needs an Allister and a Fiona in their lives.
The plot is at turns terrifying and heart-wrenching; watching Jake navigate his way through a torturous day at school dealing with racism and classism only to be further tortured after by the spirits that only he can see had me feeling anxious and worried, angry and sad. It’s beautiful in the sense that Jake is able to find support in the most unlikely of places and in a true coming of age sense, he begins to use this support to accept and love himself.
Aside from the social issues, this is one freaking scary story! Ectomist, Ghouls, Wraiths, Possession and Astral Projection are terrifying yet fascinating themes throughout and Mr. Douglass brings the fright in spades. I finished this late at night – with the lights on! I loved delving into Jakes world and I truly hope this isn’t the last we hear from him! I think Jake has a lot of great stories ahead of him and I’ll be here for it if it happens!
My thanks to @PenguinTeen for the reading copy!
TW: Homophobia, Racism, Gore, Murder, School Shooting, Violence, Bullying