Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:39 AM

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Aura sees ghosts -- but so do a lot of kids her age. In fact, everyone born after the Shift can, which means people sixteen and under are constantly being pestered by the restless spirits of the not-so-departed. Which, of course, their parents and elders can neither hear nor see.

Talk about a generation gap.

Aura's aunt is one of the few 'adults' who could see spirits before the Shift, so she can sympathize with the constant pestering. Then again, she's built an entire career on the new vociferous status of the dead, creating a legal practice for ghosts to air grievances and settle unfinished business -- in court. Apparently, something about a lawsuit can bring most ghosts the closure necessary to move on.

In the meantime, most kids born post-Shift wear lots of red (a color that seems to repel ghosts) and try to ignore the spirits crowding around them.

Aura works in her aunt's office, taking notes and testifying for clients on the stand (it's a well-known fact that the dead cannot lie), but she tries to keep this part of her life from getting in the way of her real loves -- like her amazing musician boyfriend Logan, who is one gig away from breaking into the record industry and launching his Irish rock band into the big time.

While she knows that Logan loves her, Aura is terrified of losing him to the seductive world of rock stardom -- so for the night of the concert and his birthday, Aura is making some special preparations of her own.

She never expected the night to end this way: Logan's body down the hall, while Aura stands in his bedroom, staring at his violet-hazed spirit.

Her boyfriend is dead, but definitely not gone.

Logan's family wants him to move on. Aura's aunt wants her to testify in court about his death. But Logan still loves her, and Aura can't bear to lose him twice.

At the same time, Aura is being plagued in other areas of her life. She's working on a research project about prehistoric monuments (think Stonehenge and other cool places) which she suspects holds the key to the reasons behind the Shift -- and she is suddenly saddled with a class partner, an improbably attractive Scottish boy who is disconcertingly good at flirting.

Aura feels disloyal, but at the same time, what future can she have with a dead boyfriend? And who the hell is this Zachary anyway?

A good solid read, with a nice touch on the love-triangle aspect -- this could have been a disaster, but Smith-Ready handles a tangled emotional mess with the right amount of sensitivity, showing Aura caught in the in-between of grieving and moving on, holding on to who she loves and yet and needing more...

The only quibble I had was with the world-building -- great concept, but not nearly enough about the Shift and its implications. This is probably the build-up to the sequel, when things will really get moving, so we'll have to see. In the meantime, I'd recommend this for as a slightly spooky, romantic Halloween treat.

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