In Orvis’ (In the Mousehole, 2014) romantic thriller, a woman tries to resolve her fantastic double life.
Elizabeth Owens grew up in Anaheim, California, with knowledge of a beatific realm called The Place. Cesya, a visitor from The Place, found Elizabeth in her playhouse when she was 6. Moments later, her father, in a dark rage, destroyed the playhouse, leaving the child with an experience no adult could fathom. Now, Elizabeth can mentally visit The Place while closing her eyes and experience both the past and present through Cesya. Cesya has three friends: Andon, Jaholla, and Nye. Each has a special gift to contribute to the ethereal Place; Cesya’s is to read thoughts. Though invasive, the ability helps her realize that Nye is power mad and wants to thwart the mysterious Decision. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, an introvert, is assaulted by a masked stranger. To cope, she takes the advice of her therapist, Dr. Bridgeman, and socializes more. This leads to romance with both her neighbor Jess and the detective investigating her assault, Gus. When Nye begins manipulating Elizabeth’s visits to The Place, however, revealing his hatred for her, she must understand the secret connection between her two worlds to survive. Author Orvis stirs up a mix of remembrance, romance, and paranoia in this briskly paced thriller. She assembles a long bench of potential lovers and suspects to keep Elizabeth, and readers, guessing until the end. The Place is a near paradise where “we don’t question everything like we do here. We are very accepting and live our lives in peace.” Orvis convincingly conveys the plights of both introversion and romantic longing with lines like, “Just standing near him scorched my self-confidence.” The finale is truly jolting.
A quietly shocking page-turner that chooses to be poetic instead of preachy.