Last year, I was lucky enough to get access to an early copy of Little Paranoias, Sonora Taylor’s collection that came out in October. It’s no exaggeration to say that everything about it worked for me. From the poems to the flash fiction to the longer form stories, even the curation of the order was well done. How does this relate, you say? I was dying to find out what this author could do with a novel-length story.
Fast forward seven months, and I hold in my hand, Seeing Things, A Novel by Sonora Taylor. At 174 pages this is a fast read that grabs the reader by the shirt collar and yanks them toward the finish line. You want to put it down between chapters because the kids are hungry or you’ve got a zoom meeting for work, but you can’t. You’re essentially not allowed, not when the end of each brief chapter leaves you demanding to know what’s going to happen next.
We’re dropped into Abby’s coming-of-age journey from page one before anything horror-related is even hinted at. From there the reader discovers that she’s developing a bit of a new talent. She sees dead people. At first you might be thinking, okay, I’ve seen this movie, but Taylor adds a little spin here. The dead want nothing to do with Abby. They actively avoid her, running away and being outwardly rude about it if the opportunity arises. One of her first encounters results in a ghost literally giving her the finger as he walks away.
Now I’ve probably given you the impression this is a comedy, but that’s not it either. There are a few humorous moments, mostly courtesy of Abby. She can be a bit of a smart ass, but Taylor also writes her with humility, which keeps her from coming across arrogant. Instead she’s instilled with a sense of charm. If forced to pigeonhole this into a genre, I suppose I’d have to say it’s a supernatural mystery, but more importantly, it’s a Sonora Taylor story. The characters are all complex and imperfect, male and female alike, but the female protagonist is strong and well-rounded. The prose carries the reader along, never for a moment feeling dull or clunky. This book is short because there are no wasted words. The terrifying imagery is not present on every page, but this adds to the overall effectiveness when it does present itself.
I won’t talk in detail about my favorite element of this story. Actually, I can’t without spoilers, but I appreciate a book that makes me question how exactly I’d react given a certain situation. The book closed after 174 pages, but my brain continued rolling. This is the mark of a strong storyteller. Seeing Things is up for pre-order now. If you loved Little Paranoias, don’t miss this one. If you’ve never read Taylor before, this makes for a great jumping on point.
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
I was given a copy by the author for review consideration.