Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

Rating: 4 of 5

Completely wrecked after her older sister’s suicide, Jenna makes a life-shattering decision and, ever since, has been slowly working her way to – wherever, whenever – her sister may be.

Synopsis: “When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.

But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.” (source)

My thoughts: Beneath its “urban fantasy” exterior Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day digs deep into real-world issues to tackle the solemn themes of suicide, grief, and survivor’s guilt.

The story sets itself apart through its exploration of time, death, hope, and what it means to be alive. The reason for why mirrors are covered after a death in the family, what and who ghosts really are, how and why they “haunt” the living… offer an inventive, fresh look at the concept of ghosts. I loved the witches as potential allies or enemies of ghosts. But my favorite is how Seanan McGuire played with time — its meaning, its effects, its boundaries… what an imaginative perspective!

Highly recommended for an experience both entertaining and cathartic.

Read an excerpt on Tor.com | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

A few passages I bookmarked:

Scent is very much a part of memory, and memory is a form of time travel. It takes us back, whether or not we want to go.” (Jenna)

Ghosts are the nails in the coffin of eternity, and they keep the lid from flying off.” (Brenda)

These days, everyone wants to eat, but no one wants to take the time and care needed to coax the land into giving up its glories. People don’t change. We’re always selfish, and we’re always hungry. We’ve just gotten better at looking at greed and saying ‘Oh, that’s self-interest, that’s all right.’ We’ve forgotten the way the word ‘enough’ feels on the tongue.” (Brenda)

Reprinted the poem “Widow” by Martha Keller from which this book’s title was inspired.

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