Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Genre: Urban Fantasy
“When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.” (via Goodreads)
Jenna is dead. Has been for a few decades now. After her sister’s suicide, Jenna’s sadness and rage and grief made her careless, and now she’s a ghost. But she doesn’t haunt her hometown of Mill Hollow or her parents’ house. Instead she lives, in a matter of speaking, in New York City, a real ghost in a metropolis filled with metaphorical ones. Because she died before her time, she collects minutes and seconds from others to earn her rightful death. Jenna spends her days slinging coffee at a local shop and nights literally talking people off the ledge through her volunteer work at a suicide hotline.
Her lifeless life passes incrementally, full of routine and repetition, until one by one all the ghosts in Manhattan disappear. They aren’t crossing over or moving haunts but vanishing without a trace. Brenda, a corn witch, enlists Jenna’s help in figuring out who’s behind the loss. Witches and ghosts are natural enemies, but both have a vested interest in recovering the missing spirits – without them tethering the city, reality and time will unspool.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day isn’t just a story about the loss of a loved one, but about overcoming fear, of the unknown, of others, of ourselves. When Jenna lost her sister, she also lost her strongest bond. Without her sister’s hold, Jenna came undone. Her whole life had been spent as Patty’s younger sister, so much so that when Patty died she didn’t know how to become Jenna the only child. Even in death she still holds her old identity tightly in her non-corporeal fists. Not until she’s forced to act by investigating the missing spirits does she finally come into her own. The only way to become someone new is to let go of the past. And the only way to do that is to go back home.
Seanan McGuire’s novella is wickedly well-crafted. The worldbuilding alone is breathtaking, especially since the story is a standalone and not part of any other universe or series. At once a ghost story, an urban fantasy mystery, and an emotional tale of love and loss, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is equally beautiful and sad. It brims with heart and hurt. Be prepared for some major feels.
This is Mill Hollow. This is the sound of insects in the trees, the hoot of owls, the distant whisper of the creek as it runs between the roots of trees so much older than I am that they probably never noticed I was here, much less mourned when I was gone. This is home. This is where I lived; this is where I died. This is everything I ever had, and everything I gave away.
Thanks to Tor.com for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.