Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Theo is a woman driven by failure. Her failure as a lover, a daughter, and most importantly of all … as a sister. One summer day, Theo’s sister Flora went missing in the West Virginia woods and was never found. Neither Theo nor her parents have forgiven Theo for not being there, for not finding Flora. It’s led Theo to a life as a Park Ranger, searching for missing hikers, searching for Flora.

Theo finds a girl, Olivia, a child who seems to have been lost for longer than she’s been missing, who whispers about music in the woods and is missing toes. For all that, Theo is able to hand Olivia to her parents, all while wishing she had found someone else instead. Between depression, despair, and drunkenness, Theo stumbles across stairs in the middle of the forest. Stairs that, quite obviously, don’t belong. Neither does the creature that chases her through the woods, the toilet stall by the river, a stag trapped in a cave it couldn’t have gotten into, dogs that … aren’t quite dogs, and men in black clothing and sunglasses hunting her. It’s a lot, and it calls for a drink.

However, drinks don’t help the voices in her head, the visions of her sister in the woods, or the loneliness eating away at her. Drinks don’t keep Theo from kissing her ex and wishing things had been different, and they don’t help her deal with her mother who refuses to forgive her. When a stranger reaches out, telling Theo he knows about her sister and where to find her, Theo is at first angry and then desperate. Something, anything has to change.

And it does. Stairs in the woods, doors that lead to other worlds, and the five-faced man keeping her sister from her. Maybe Theo should be scared. Instead, Theo’s angry. And she’s going to get her sister back.

Just to put it out in the open, this is not a book with an easy ending. It’s not a book where the good guys win and the bad guys lose and lost children are found. It’s a book about grief, with time travel, alternate dimensions, and undercover organizations. There’s no explanation of who did what to whom or why, no tying up of loose ends, no redemption arc or happy ending. It’s not going to be a book for everyone; however, if you’re a fan of vibes or No Sleep stories, you might have fun with this one.

Theo isn’t a good person. She’s not terrible, she’s just … normal. She drinks way too much, using it as armor and weapon against her mother — who is a terrible person; a woman who grieves so much and so publicly for the daughter she lost that she has thrown away the daughter she has left — as well as the world. She pushes herself, believing her mother’s lies that she’s responsible for what happened to her sister, a story that is never really told or gone into. One day Flora was gone; that’s it, and Theo was left behind.

Delilah is a local reporter who, at the time of Flora’s vanishing, was Theo’s girlfriend. After Delilah reported on the case, something Theo felt was a violation of their closeness, of her own tightly held and private grief for her sister, the two of them parted ways. Theo still misses her, still wants what they could have had, but that’s all behind her. Now, Delilah is both someone to hate and someone who, at the very least, she can trust to always be Delilah.

Along with Quinn, Theo’s best friend and an all around good guy, and Wesley, the conspiracy theorist who introduces Theo to the Ouroboros, it’s up to Theo and Delilah to try to get Flora back. And … that’s all I’ll say about that. The plot is half vibes, half hand waving, and best experienced, I think, from reading the book. Any explanation or summary I give will both lessen it and point out the holes in it. Now, the holes aren’t bad; they’re just areas where logic and story have rubbed up against each other and — as it should — the story won.

I had fun with this book, but I’m pretty sure that this is going to be one of those books that will either very much work for you … or very much not. For me, it did.