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Dee Shaffer
Dee Shaffer, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Charlie's 39-year-old journey was surrounded by hidden forces. Blind to their powerful influences, she unknowingly walked into a wicked trap that she believed to offer momentary peace. However, this trap was permanent in its grip, and it thrust her into hidden realms that were more alive and vivid than her conscious awareness. Profound regret and overwhelming fear became her reality as she was dragged through the horrors of this unknown realm. She was able to see the dark forces that had been hidden and could comprehend their vile influences that led her to this inescapable trap. In an instant, she was pulled out of her eternal suffocating destiny and entered into a majestic hidden realm that permeated her soul with overwhelming love and the inexplicable peace that she had desperately craved. She was able to see the other side of these hidden forces that had always been loving and protective, and that relentlessly tried to help her. She was told she had a purpose. She was not told what it was. In the end, she was able to see how her seemingly insignificant decisions were beautifully revealed as the hidden source of light that profoundly influenced the lives of countless people who crossed her path. It was this source of light that she had been unaware of for so long. Until her very own unthinkable journey into the hidden realm.
Shaffer's spiritually enriching novel invites readers into the life of middle-aged non-believer Charlotte Emery, who takes her life one fine dawn at a cemetery. In between life and death, she finds herself transported into the realm of hell, where the realization hits that the dark voices she's been hearing in her physical life are actually demons spewing lies. Witnessing the sinister dimension swarming with evil and eternally tormented souls, she beholds an unprecedented and unfamiliar kind of lightness shine forth. It wraps her spirit as it carries her to heaven, where she is given a shot at salvation by fulfilling her divine purpose.

Shaffer (author of Bitter Silence) writes a lush and enchanting narrative of Charlie's growing spirituality, not through suspenseful plot twists and high-stakes thriller situations, but through the new connections she makes in her daily routines. “How am I supposed to fulfill any purpose without knowing what it is?" Charlie whispers, and the novel takes a deep dive into Charlie's grander human quandaries, like succumbing to the menacing voices or continuing to grapple with living righteously. Although she’s often passive, and the story’s sometimes repetitive, the narration teems with ethereal manifestations in Charlie's mundane life, creating opportunity for thoughtful discourse about both the roots of Charlie's noxious life perspective—familial afflictions, unmet parental needs—and, once she gains, gains faith, her new awareness of her human limitations.

Charlie at one point is so consumed by darkness that “she could not see one flicker of that radiant light or that living spark that she could see in herself as an 8-year-old child.” At times menacing and conflicted with suicide events and deaths, Charlie's story is ultimately powered by hope and lessons about forgiveness, as Shaffer offers an immersive and reflective exploration of one's restoration of faith during a battle with mental illness.Readers, especially Christians and those facing related challenges, will find this compelling story therapeutic, and may even kick off their journey to believing.

Takeaway: Immersive story of a woman's journey through darkness toward faith.

Comparable Titles: Harry Blamires's New Town, Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A