by: Constance Phillips
$14.99 trade paperback
Crescent Moon Press
Released: March 2013
Harry Houdini promised his wife Bess that not even death would separate them, and he would bring her a message from beyond the grave should something happen to him. When he dies suddenly after emergency surgery, he winds up in front of the keeper of purgatory. He begs to be allowed back to see his wife, so they make a deal: he will be given a new body and sent back to earth. He has only so long to convince Bess who he used to be. The catch? He can't come outright and tell her. He must trust her soul will recognize his and realize who he is, while also trying to save Bess from supposed self-destruction.
When he's given a body of a man half his age, he has no idea how to proceed. At first, Bess coldly brushes him off, but he manages to win his way into her good graces and into her home. What started off as something he thought would be simple spirals out of control when he realizes the extent of Bess's despair and heartache over losing him. She's also turned to the people he hated most in life for support.
Yet the man he was must now take a backseat to Erich, the man he now is. While Erich has all of Harry's memories, he slowly begins to turn into someone else, somehow who is desperate to not make the same mistakes Harry did. For both he and Harry are in love with Bess, and Erich has no clue how to keep her out of the spiral of destruction she's heading towards.
This book took me through a whole range of emotions. I started off being extremely depressed over how miserable Bess was, and how she clung to the foolish notion that holding a séance would allow Harry to reveal his secret code to her. When we meet Erich, we see him battling with the man he used to be versus the man he now is. While they share a soul, they're not the same person, and at first we're looking at the world through Harry's memories. Slowly we begin to see Erich emerge and start to form his own opinions about people and events. This book was so emotionally compelling that there were a few surprise parts to it I didn't expect because I was so wrapped up in the characters' emotions. I started out not liking this book at all because it made me depressed, but then a light began to shine and we start to see Bess make the steep uphill climb towards redemption and recovery, and with that the depression lifted and I was swept along in the story. This is a very emotionally complex book, so those people that enjoy becoming emotionally invested in a story will find this to be a fantastic read.
Carla gives this book a