The idea of tackling painful memories to be freed from the past is intriguing. The main players spend the majority of the novel reliving distressing moments through “neuroflashing,” a distinctive method of time travel that pits them against Bloody Mary and her phantoms in the hopes of preserving their memories and escaping her traps. Still, with so many complex and mysterious supernatural elements, the plotting can be a challenge to keep up with, and some elements of Farmer’s ambitious tale prove hazy, such as Bloody Mary’s connection to neuroflashing, or that between Erica and Macy, described as a spirit from the 1800s trapped in the “Interstate”—a place of “nothingness between the stars.”
Readers who crave twisted storylines rich with paranormal angst will appreciate Farmer’s writing, as he adds depth through his focus on the family dynamics behind his characters’ actions: Erica’s attempt to mend her broken relationship with Dianne through otherworldly battles and sacrifice helps ground an otherwise nebulous plot. For all of this thriller’s fantastical elements, which can at times prove overwhelming, the humanity of the characters is clear and engaging. Lovers of paranormal legends will be rewarded by this complex, inventive debut.
Takeaway: Bloody Mary, time travel, and the realm between life and death power this inventive paranormal debut.
Great for fans of: Holly Black’s Book of Night, Chuck Wendig’s The Book of Accidents.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A