Title: Beyond Black
Author: Hilary Mantel
Published: 2005, Henry Holt and Company
Accolades: 2006 shortlist Orange Prize
Alison Hart is a kind, lonely woman who is well-respected in her field. Those that are down on their luck or have dark secrets are drawn to her and she gently tries to help them see the light. But Alison also has dark secrets. She is haunted by a horrendous childhood and by the spirits of those that hurt her - literally and figuratively. Alison is a psychic medium. She sees dead people.
I like a good ghost story even if it's really dark and eerie, I don't frighten easily. Beyond Black is just that - it's beyond dark - way beyond. This is a creepy book on so many levels. The most frightening aspects of the book are not the ghosts themselves, but it's the horrible people that the ghosts were before they were ghosts and the sickening things that they did to Alison when she was a child. There aren't many likeable characters, dead or alive, which made it very difficult to enjoy this book.
There are many layers to Beyond Black. On the surface it's about a psychic and the ghosties that haunt her relentlessly, but it's also about the ghosts of our pasts that haunt us and keep us from moving forward. So the question that I was left wondering was, " Did Alison really see ghosts, or was it the pain of her past that haunts her?" You'll have to read the book and decide for yourself.
My Rating: 3 out of 5