Hughes delivers a complex case of weighty history, violent trauma, and untold mystery in this debut paranormal thriller.
The supernatural has long been a part of Rosetta Barrett’s life, but that doesn’t make the burden easier to bear. It’s 2021, and she’s a psychic detective who’s found gainful employment and validation with the Elite Paranormal Intelligence Service, but she’s lost plenty to the demands of the job. The secrecy required led to the collapse of her marriage and the loss of custody of her kids, Alice and Edward. That would be more than enough to deal with, but recently, she’s also been having psychic visions that have been keeping her from a good night’s sleep. Although what she sees—a car accident involving a horse—wouldn’t normally be serious enough for Rosetta to commit any real resources to an investigation, she nonetheless pieces together the deadly truth of the visions. Soon, she’s racing to stop a predicted tragedy from occurring. She’s too late to save the victims, but as she investigates and talks to the horse’s owner and event rider, Juliet Jermaine, it becomes clear that the tragedy was no accident. After Rosetta and her team dig deeper, they discover a cycle of violence and revenge that poses a major threat. The novel’s short chapters and tight pacing are its greatest assets, keeping the pages turning and allowing for rapid shifts between characters’ points of view without becoming confusing. The prose never neglects description but tackles it efficiently, couching it in the characters’ natural voices. The very beginning of the novel is somewhat disorienting, as its briskness makes it somewhat difficult to take in the paranormal aspect of this near-future world. Nevertheless, the prose grounds the action quickly, and Rosetta, as a character, connects with readers powerfully and immediately; her anger and sense of duty ring true from the outset. Her struggles with career and family further elevate this exciting, unusual story.
An engrossing tale with nuanced themes and a genuinely complex heroine.