Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

5 Aug

Series: No, stand-alone book

Published: September 21st 2005 by Graphia

Details: Paperback, 282 pages

My rating: 4/5


Haunting tale about two ghosts who inhabit human bodies and fall in love. The love story is not the main theme though as focus is gradually shifted towards the issues following their possession of the bodies. I had a bad gut feeling throughout the whole book, as if something terrible was going to happen, yet I couldn’t let it go. Interesting story that had me thinking.

See my full review here:


Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. I was with my teacher, Mr Brown. As usual, we were in our classroom, that safe and wooden-walled box – the windows opening onto the grassy field to the west, the fading flag standing in the chalk dusty corner, the television set mounted above the bulletin board like a sleeping eye, and Mr Brown’s princely table keeping watch over a regimen of student desks.

My thoughts:

I started reading this book thinking it was going to be about two ghosts who fell in love. Which it was, but as the story unfolds, it ends up being about so much more.

Essentially, this is the story from the point of view of Helen, a ghost who has been stuck between hell and earth for 130 years, without really knowing why as she can’t remember her living life. She assumes she must have done something horrible to be stuck this way. She is terribly lonely, and the only company she gets is from watching the living people she has been attaching herself too during these years, her “hosts” as she calls them, who naturally cannot see her.

This goes on, until one day she’s noticed by a boy,  in the class room in which her current host is teaching. The boy, called James, turns out to be a ghost too, but is inhabiting a living boy’s body (Billy), whose soul has left. They get to know each other, and together start looking for a body for Helen, so that they can be together. They find that body in Jenny, a girl whose soul has left too. Once Helen is in her body, their relationship blossoms into a love story, and all might have been well there, hadn’t the pasts come back to haunt them.

The pasts haunting them are not only those of James and Helen, who suddenly start remembering bits and pieces of their former lives, but also the pasts of their bodies, Jenny and Billy. There were reasons why the souls of Jenny and Billy left their bodies, as James and Helen soon find out. Billy is a bad boy and white trash, who’s soul left in a haze a drugs, stemming from unresolved family issues. Jenny on the other hand appears to have had the perfect family life, all though on a closer look, had her soul slowly suffocated by all too controlling and conservative parents .

If I were to summarize the book, I’d say that in the first half of the book, I was eagerly turning pages to find out how the relationship between the ghosts James and Helen would play out. In the second half of the book, tension creeps in gradually, as the focus is moved from the love story and onto the issues of the bodies (Billy and Jenny) and problems arising when James and Helen are not behaving as they are expected. Basically, throughout the second part of the book I had a feeling everything was heading towards disaster, which in a way it was.

The ending was suprising, as I didn’t see it coming, but I liked it (it’s positive) all though it does leave quite a few open ends. In short, this is a book that will take you by surprise, and make you think long after you’ve turned the last page.

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