A creepy supernatural chiller sets up a gut-punch of desolation and loss.
For three months, high school junior Marsh Windsor has been refusing to wear shoes, ignoring schoolwork and friends, and getting into fights. His parents and teachers—even his former girlfriend—tolerate his bizarre behavior as an inability to cope with the car wreck that seriously injured Marsh and killed his twin, Austin. Only the new girl, Maddie, knows that Marsh is seeking a “thin space,” a portal between the realms of the living and the dead; and Maddie has her own reasons for abetting his search. Casella’s debut is a viscerally raw examination of grief, in which the universal question of adolescence—“who am I?”—becomes “who am I without you?” The spare prose, wherein the bleak New England weather seems more real than the characters vaguely swirling across Marsh’s awareness, immerses readers in his ratcheting desperation. His first-person voice throbs with agony, guilt and anger, all felt through a foggy numbness that fails to conceal that Marsh is hiding something crucial. This very unreliability propels a gripping narrative, even though little actually happens.
Those who manage to hang on through the devastating climax will immediately turn back to the beginning to catch the clues they missed. Brutal and brilliant. (Paranormal fantasy. 14 & up)