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A Certain Slant of Light (2005)

by Laura Whitcomb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Certain Slant of Light (1)

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1,8821076,298 (3.88)97
After benignly haunting a series of people for 130 years, Helen meets a teenage boy who can see her and together they unlock the mysteries of their pasts.
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» See also 97 mentions

English (103)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
"The most compelling thing in my world, sir, is to be heard and seen by you."
He looked at me a long moment. "Then I am most beholden to you."


Firstly, this wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn close. I didn't love every character or every relationship or every situation. But after it all I was left with the feeling that this world was definitely something that could only exist in this book, and so the entirety of it, flaws and all, is something I'm never going to see again.

It just left me with such a good feeling and love of the atmosphere. I don't know. Everything in it felt strangely special.

The writing was really wonderful, with plenty of evocative and beautiful descriptions. I'm normally not fond of the trope where a single glance or facial expression tells the MC everything about how the person feels, but since Helen had spent over a hundred years doing nothing but people-watching, this kind of thing made perfect sense. Lines like "Dan cocked his head at me, as slow as a cannon changing targets", "He looked as if he had just remembered a joke but was not planning on repeating it", "'I just can't stand you lying,' she said, and although she looked at me now, I saw Dan shift as if ready to answer" and so on, are the kind of simple and accurate little nuances in conversation that Whitcomb delivered perfectly. These were the sorts of familiar but unique peeks into human interaction that made me love Gone Girl and I was really pleased to see them here again.

I'm not someone who easily likes main characters for some reason, but Helen's situation was just so interesting that it immediately drew me to her and all her jealously and her book snobbery that would be insufferable in any other scenario.

As for James, he felt more like a symbol for life than a person. Maybe this was on purpose, but also maybe it doesn't matter, because it didn't take anything away from him for me. As a person he was sweet and charming ("The way James lifted his hand to his brow, smiling at them but forgetting he had no hat to tip, made me want to kiss him" me too, Helen), but maybe I'm just old and cynical since I wasn't that invested in their romance. At least, it didn't feel like a love where they'd get married and have kids and whatnot, even in a world where that was possible. They felt like each other's perfect concepts of being alive again. I don't think this because it moved too fast or fell into any other romance book trappings...I don't expect two people who have been merely watching the world for ages to suddenly decide to take it carefully and slow when they have the chance to be with someone, whether that's just talking or having sex or whatnot.

MR. BROWN, HOWEVER. I was a little afraid that after Helen found a body, she'd let Mr. Brown vanish from the story, but his continuous return was somehow more satisfying and more touching to me than anything with James. Their relationship was something completely unique that could only have existed in this book and this writer's hands, and I loved every brief moment. Dear Miss Whitcomb I hope Mr. Brown is doing all right and he named his son something with a ton of silent letters.

I could probably go on and on about all the other characters... I wish we could have learned a little more about Jenny and Billy, but maybe me wanting that is yet another nod to the writing, because I don't feel like we didn't get enough but I'm still sitting here wanting to know more. I was weirdly surprised by the religious tones, and then more surprised that it didn't really get into it that much. Also surprised that we didn't learn much about how James and Billy resolved their, you know, Spoilers, but I guess that sends me to the idea that they weren't forever entwined like people would be, and death is pretty dang lonely. Speaking of, I think it managed the separation between Helen and James really well - they had so much to resolve for themselves and for their hosts that they couldn't always be together, even at the end of things.

(The official ebook has a painful amount of typos, btw. Are you kidding? You kept forgetting periods?)

I don't feel like I understood all that it was trying to tell me, and I think that it may not have gone to any great heights (or, well, depths), but I still really loved reading it and actually, for once in a very long time, felt completely immersed in a new world. ( )
  Chyvalrys | Aug 5, 2020 |
I really wanted to LOVE this book. I liked the premise and the happy hint of a timeless romance. But the purple prose was too much, and the characters' actions and decisions were unreal. The dialog was just strange. I can imagine that dialog like this does happen in real life, but on paper it was too jarring. I spent most of the middle of the book not knowing what the hell was going on. The ending did redeem the book, however, as I found myself grabbing for a tissue. The emotion was there; in the end I really did care about the two star-crossed lovers. ( )
  aquaorbis | Nov 1, 2017 |
A little sappy for my taste, but not a bad read. ( )
  LenaR0307 | Sep 3, 2017 |
A surprisingly beautiful novel. Instead of your average gal meets supernatural boy story, the main characters are ancient and young at once. Their story is complicated, gritty with a raw kind of beauty instead. The writing wraps you into the world of ghosts unlike any other novel I have read. A paranormal romance for adults as well as youth! ( )
  JSilverwood | Aug 27, 2016 |
Gorgeous.  Perfect YA 'romance beyond the grave' but also rich and complex enough for adult fans of speculative fiction and relationship stories.  Plenty to think about, to discuss, to enjoy upon a reread.  If the blurb catches your eye, I do recommend it. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laura Whitcombprimary authorall editionscalculated
Molina, LaurenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smallwood, SheilaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thiele, SabineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vojnar, KamilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my mother, who was both Quick and Light-- my first protector, my model of clarity and forgiveness.
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Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you're dead.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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After benignly haunting a series of people for 130 years, Helen meets a teenage boy who can see her and together they unlock the mysteries of their pasts.

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