Ethan is having dreams about a girl he cannot see, a girl sinking into mud, that he can’t rescue. He doesn’t understand, and he doesn’t expect anything to change in his backwoods small-town Gatlin, South Carolina. But then Lena arrives, the girl from his dreams, and many things begin to change.
I first heard about this book at BEA in 2010, from Bookalicious Pam. She described it as a paranormal southern book, and that didn’t sound in the least bit interesting. I’ve since then heard a lot of people say the book was great, and also that it was very, very southern. Rare is the “southern” book that I can stomach, probably because I’m from the south and really don’t like it here, and so every time I’d thought about reading this one, I’d said never mind. I didn’t even attempt it on audio, because southern books are so often read with a crappy southern accent, like the time I tried to listen to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Bleagh.
But then, on my first day exploring the Celebrity Summit library, I saw both this book and the first sequel, Beautiful Darkness, on the shelves. I decided to pull both of them off and add to a pile of books-to-possibly-read-on-vacation. I hadn’t brought any books with me, and I knew I wouldn’t read all six books I grabbed from the library, but I also figured I could at least try them and see, once and for all, if the southern part was enough to offset the great part everyone talked about.
Turned out, I really enjoyed the book. It was interesting. First, it had a male narrator, and the paranormal person was the female protag, not the male. That was unusual. Then, it really did capture southern small-town very well, and in a way that was humorous to me, not annoying. So another point for that. Lastly, the plot itself was unusual and interesting, and mostly fairly unpredictable. I enjoyed 90% of the book, and my only qualm with the plotting was the muddled end. I would have preferred a more definite ending, rather than the quagmire that the book fell into (and then kept swimming through for 90% of the second book – review to come later). But overall, the book was well-written and captivating enough for me to move on to the second in the series not long after I finished the first, which is a good thing. I’m glad I finally read this one.
Oh! And I also love that the title doesn’t refer to the Casters, but to regular human beings. I don’t have the book in front of me, since I had to leave it with the ship, but I adored the quote that the title comes from.