Mark is in his 30s and finally finding happiness again, having endured the loss of his 7 year old son and the subsequent break up of his marriage. Having hit a low while grieving for Brendan he has now moved on and is in love with Allison. He is on the verge of proposing when an unwelcome woman comes barging into his life.
She lives in the house where his son's accident occurred and claims he is haunting the house. Mark's father is very logical and has raised him to be the same, so he tries to ignore her. However ex-wife Chloe is more willing to believe and, trying to support her Mark finds himself in a downward spiral. Reliving the events of seven years prior changes him and his life is quickly unravelling once again as he faces sacrificing the present and the future for the past.
I have had this book on my kindle for a while and read it without revisiting the blurb. When I pulled it up on screen before writing this I was stunned to see that this is the author's first novel. I loved this book and am impressed by this debut. This isn't a ghost story per se, instead it is about relationships, love and how much people will change if they want something badly enough. I found myself cast in the role of cynic, doubting that the house was haunted, and read on to see whether I was going to be right or wrong. Mark's best friend Lew at one point provides a very helpful list of all the possible explanations of the chain of events which is similar to the thoughts I'd been having as I read and served as a good summary. There isn't a lot of action, but there is a lot of conflict as Mark tries (and mostly fails) to make the right decisions for himself and those he loves.
Mark has already been through the wringer and as we read about how he struggled to move on and see him rebuilding a good life for himself it makes the descent back into despair that much more stark. While at points I doubted her motives I felt for ex-wife Chloe as well as wife-to-be Allison. And despite his best efforts to mess up virtually every relationship he has I still felt for Mark. My favourite character though was his straight-talking and sage father, Sam. He is the voice of reason, but has plenty of charm and some hard stories of his own to tell.
I enjoyed the writing which flowed nicely, written in a way that allowed me to become engrossed by the story rather than noticing the style too much. The ending leaves some room for imagination, which in this case was a good thing.
This is the best book I have read in a while. I felt so much for Mark that at one point I almost got up to go and cuddle my sleeping daughter, imagining how awful experiences like his must be. It's not often that I am moved like that by a book.
Format: Kindle, ARC from Netgalley, due for release 28th June 2012
My Rating: 5*