Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: blood, gore, suicide, drug use and abuse, car accidents, emesis, homophobia
Andrew Blur lost his best friend Eddie in what looks like a suicide. But the ghoul haunting him suggests that there is something more at play and he’s determined to find answers, whether the academic establishment and newfound friend group Eddie found like it or not. This spooky read has a bit of everything: conspiracies, dark family histories, a mystery at its center, the full messiness of coming-of-age, and so much more. An absolute treat for those who enjoy hauntings and disaster gays.
The author Lee Mandelo will be featured on the blog in an interview on release day, September 28th, 2021.
The hauntings are terrifying and the book swelters in its atmosphere, but it’s the character journey we go on with Andrew that really makes this book shine. The way Mandelo uses ghosts to illustrate just how messed up the grief over Eddie has made Andrew really works within both horror genre constructs. There’s the terrors haunting him, but also the shitty choices he keeps making. (Although, one can argue that they’re more trauma responses than active decisions, but that’s a different discussion). Andrew seems to be chasing closure and healing to his own detriment, but luckily it’s hard for him to be alone in the chase.
Do no harm, but take no shit is a resounding chorus among our side characters. Riley is my favorite because he is not afraid to hold a mirror up to Andrew and make him take a good, hard look at himself. There’s a maturity in the character choices made throughout the narrative that keep both the plot rolling but also Andrew’s self-actualization. It’s super effective and hella heart-wrenching.
I’m also obsessed with the fact that the dark academia here has to do with actual academics. It just doesn’t happen to take place at a university. The process of onboarding for graduate school and the study itself is as essential to the plot as are the extracurriculars. It’s something that’s been missing for me in a few reads, and I love how prominent it is here. Each aspect of the book is used to its fullest effect.