Abner Cray, a photographer, comes to New York City to work on a new coffee table book about Manhattan. An old acquaintance has offered to let him use his apartment while in the city, and though the two never really got along, Abner accepts. In the apartment he finds that a woman named Phyllis Pellaprat is already in residence, and over a short period of time, Abner falls in love. But Phyllis has some strange habits - and there is something odd about her that he can't put his finger on. When Abner learns Phyllis's strange secret, he is drawn into another world, a world that threatens to cave in the walls of his own and those of his mind and sanity as well. An amazing, haunting tale.
©2010 T. M. Wright (P)2010 CrossRoad Press
"T M Wright is a rare and blazing talent." (Stephen King )
"Wright convincingly proves that he understands, as few do, how to give a scare without spilling blood all over the page." (Publishers Weekly)
"T M Wright is the best ghost story writer alive today." (American Fantasy Magazine)
a cozy spook story that is practically blood free, and moves at its own inexorable pace, with an intermingled element of romance. Subtle and evocative, it pulls the listener into its ghostly world much as the protagonist is pulled toward the supernatural, with the aid of Dick Hill's quirky and masterful narration
This was an interesting premise (a ghost story set in Manhattan), and I found T.M. Wright's style interesting as well, but this story had it's flaws.
There is an annoying disconnect with how Abner (the protagonist) is able to see the dead. The story begins with meeting a strange woman on a train who gives him this ability like a sickness, and yet not only is this seemingly pivotal moment ignored later, it also becomes apparent that Abner has seen at least one ghost when he was a young child. The story has a lot of repetition for effect (which I generally approve of) but it moves in a cyclical nature, where whole passages are repeated verbatim with little new insight.
I liked Wright's style almost immediately, but as the story progressed I found myself almost lost at times. I would have liked more grounding in reality, and I think it would have been wise to interweave the more mundane conflicts a little more strongly with the supernatural ones. Even stronger setting at times would have helped.
The thing I found most frustrating about this story was that Abner is acting out of his 'love' for this woman, Phyllis. He goes to great lengths to try and stay near her, but his actions and reactions aren't always consistent. What was a bigger problem for me, is that I was unable to take his love seriously. I couldn't understand where this supposed connection had come from, and it seemed to me more of a sexual fascination rather than anything more. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that - but as far as motivation for why Abner does what he does, I don't see it.
All that said, I felt both the story and the style had a lot of potential. The premise was really intriguing, I think it could have just done with more fleshing out. I liked Wright's style from the moment I heard the preview. I'll probably give him one more chance, though perhaps with a short story this time rather than a novel.
I'd recommend this story to someone who didn't care about a well crafted ending. The book seemed to be going somewhere, but at the very end it dragged on past when the story should have been cut off. The last half an hour or so is useless, as the narrative meanders away from an edgy finale into a murky, confused finish.
I enjoyed the scene where the main character and friend(s) scare the crap out of themselves in a mausoleum.
I wasn't turned off by the cousin-incest, but some people might be. My problem with this story was that the ending fizzled out, lost its edge, quit being interesting, and ruined the whole thing for me.
Equally good, I would say. A great story, and unique, as is all of his work.
When Abner finds out who his "roommate" really is, or at least what she really is, or "where" she really is! Didn't see this coming!
He seemed to grasp the plot, bringing the story around where it needed to be with his inflections, and generally his overall feel.
Beware...do you know who your friends really are???
Look for T.M. Wright's other books. He is worth the time.
I remained interested in this book when it seemed an exploration of the idea of what it means to be alive or to be dead and what barriers separate the two. However, as it began to degenerate into just another tale of zombies, I lost interest. Moreover, I suspect that even those who are interested in in zombie stories might not like the overly long prelude to the arrival of the ghouls. Perhaps the author was trying to accomplish a “deeper” examination of the zombie myth, but I think that particular myth is laden with too much baggage from popular culture for such an effort to be successful.
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