A ghost of love

A Gift of Thought  - Sarah Wynde

I loved this novel. It’s #2 in the series, and I was glad to meet several of the characters I befriended in #1, A Gift of Ghosts. Here is my review: http://olgagodim.booklikes.com/post/842531/physics-sex-and-ghosts-a-good-combination

This novel is better though, with deeper characterization and more focused, tightly knitted plot. To my delight, my favorite character from book #1 – the ghost of a teenage boy Dillon – made a seamless, triumphant transition into the book #2. Here, he is the protagonist. It’s his story, or rather the story of his family. It follows three main characters: Sylvie, Lucas, and Dillon.

When Sylvie was seventeen and Lucas was fifteen, they fell in love, and Sylvie got pregnant. Dillon was their son. After he was born, Sylvie fled their hometown to escape prosecution as a sex offender. She didn’t know Lucas was fifteen and below the consent age, but it didn’t matter in the eyes of the law. She had never seen her baby again.

Now, 18 years later, all three meet by chance, but they are all different. Sylvie is not a confused girl anymore. She is a strong, confident woman, a former Marine, working as a bodyguard for a rich man’s daughter. She has built a new life for herself.

Lucas is not a schoolboy either. His work for the government involves various and often dangerous assignments. When he crosses Sylvie’s path, it’s unintentional. He is investigating her employer for possible drug connections and doesn’t know Sylvie works for his suspect. But as soon as they see each other, sparks fly anew between the two. It seems their love might have survived the 18-year separation.  

And Dillon, their baby-son, is not a baby anymore. He is a ghost. He died when he was fifteen, from overdose, and he is still adjusting to his new invisible self. Recently, he learned to send text messages on cell phones, and those help him communicate with his father. Dillon frequently accompanies his father on his business trips, and Lucas accepts his son’s ghostly essence without qualms. For Lucas, a ghost son is better that no son at all; he is still grieving over Dillon’s death. 

When Dillon sees his mother for the first time, he knows his new mission in life: to bring his parents back together. But first, he has to convince her that he is real. Well, kind of. Cell-phone-realm real anyway. All ghosts are energy, and the digital world is built of energy too. Computers, cell-phones, car alarms, remote controls – they are all ghost-friendly, at least in Wynde’s universe, and I love the author’s novel approach to the ghostly trope.

Unfortunately, Dillon’s mission is complicated by his mother’s shock and disbelief in his ethereal existence. She didn’t know her son was dead. She doesn’t believe in his ghost either, so her grief wars with her anger: someone must be playing cruel jokes on her. Those text messages can’t be from her dead son, right?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Dillon's resourcefulness in dealing with the living world is amazing. Almost all Dillon’s scenes are simultaneously funny and poignant. He didn’t lose any of his human qualities when he died. He still worries for his loved ones. He still can be sneaky. He still behaves like a fifteen-year-old. He is such a great kid. Pity he is a ghost. 

The exploits of this unconventional family and their awkward but heart-felt attempts at communication and understanding make for a fun-filled ride. I cheered for them all, as they tumbled into one misadventure after another.

The action was fast-moving and very logical, despite the ghosts and other paranormal baggage, as the goals of all three protagonists weave around each other, sometimes coinciding, other times going cross-purposes, but always inspired by love. The entire book is a love story, encompassing romantic love as well as the love between parents and children.

The narrative is clean and terse, with no unnecessary words, and the dialog sparkles. The only flaw in this book – its villain is rather one-dimensional – isn’t really a flaw for me. I don’t read for villains. I read for the heroes, and I fell in love with all three of them.

And I’m definitely in love with the author. From now on, everything she writes will automatically go into my TBR list. I’m off to her next novel now. Can’t wait to start it.