According to ancient demon lore, the ghost of a recently deceased emperor takes his successor as a host in order to ensure continuity of power, but somehow Emperor Askar Molasca’s ghost finds his new home in the body of 17-year-old Andín dal Rovi, a feisty Antrimanian girl.
Andín is brooding because her father will not allow her to go to university when the demon possession takes place. The possession is not complete, and Andín begins to communicate with the demon/emperor speaking to her inside her head—and sometimes taking over her mouth, often with comical effect. He is just as confused as she is as to why he’s not in the body of his successor. Readers will join them in their confusion as the story progresses and Andín begins to take on any number of incarnations in the many dreams that haunt her. Seen as a threat, Andín is exiled from her home country of Antriman, and in search of an exorcism, she travels to distant lands to resolve her possession issues. Bigelow introduces intriguing feminist themes, but they get lost as she tries to infuse too much into this slow, drawn-out journey, layering it with planetary black holes, demon lore, and political turmoil as well as gender identity and sexual orientation. The worldbuilding includes geographically based racial differentiation; relatively light-skinned Andín encounters beautiful, dark-skinned, kinky-haired Yshe, who joins her.
With a tighter editorial hand, this book could have been captivating. (map) (Fantasy. 14 & up)