Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).
Who I Recommend This To: Fans of the paranormal, such as body snatching ghosts, would enjoy this.
Publisher: Jupiter Gardens Press (2013)
Length: 65 pages
Stephanie Minagawa has struggled with depression since her teen years. She has also struggled with the expectations of her parents as she wants to be a musician and her parents want her to be an engineer. So she tells her parents she’s off to far away New Mexico to work at Sandia National Labs but really she packs her violin and has hopes of joining the orchestra. Too bad the dry air of the desert splits her violin within hours of her landing there. But her stand partner recommends a violin repair shop on one of the local pueblos. And there she sees and hears the Sunset People. Their magical music calls to her and she can’t let it go. She returns again and again, demanding to know, even after she is loaned a violin while hers is being repaired.
The main character struggles with her depression and inclination towards suicide throughout the book. While I like how the author delved into this aspect (including self-mutilation and the altar of deceased relatives), I was a little unsatisfied that a reason, or series of reasons, for the depression was not revealed. Perhaps there was none in the fictional life of Stephanie……but for a novella, it nagged at me a bit. Whatever the reasons, or not, for her attraction to suicide, it was an integral part of the plot. The Sunset People’s music is for those who are ready to let go of life and move into the next realm of being. Stephani hears the music and is strongly drawn to it. Meanwhile, a lady she becomes friends with is struggling with a serious illness and can’t hear the music or see the Sunset People; she is not ready to let go. I liked the juxtaposition of these two.
Then we have the romance of the story. Granted, it’s a little like a whirlwind. He works at the violin repair shop and lends her his own violin. The two have a near-instant bond in their love for music. However, he still misses his deceased wife, Theresa. Poor man, I don’t recall his name. The ladies in this story were more interesting. Though he did get a few great lines about wanting to live, etc. Stephanie reacts angrily to these lines and he has to apologize later, which I thought was a bit unfair. She was dancing with death, toying with it, not fully living her life, but not quite able to give it up either. That aspect had me thinking a lot about life and not living it half-assed, no matter if you are suicidal or not.
Anyway, we get a paranormal aspect a bit later in the story as Theresa returns as a ghost and tries to take over Stephanie permanently. This creates another quandary for our main character. She could let go of her life, easily, with no pain, no fuss. Her parents wouldn’t even know she was gone. There would be no guilt over her leaving people behind. What do you think she picked? I won’t spoil it for you. I will say the ending was very satisfying.
What I Liked: Setting in NM; main character comes with long-term conflict (suicide inclination); the ending was quite satisfying.
What I Disliked: There wasn’t any reason(s) given for Stephanie’s depression.
What Others Think: