The Fiction Fox
Review: In Another Light - A.J. Banner
Published: Lake Union Publications, October 2021 My Rating: 3.5 stars
"Grief can play with the mind…”
An intriguing mystery gives way to a heartfelt emotional journey about grief and loss in the latest novel by thriller-author A.J. Banner.
In Another Light starts off with a hook that always manages to grab my attention from the start. We follow Phoebe Glassman, a woman in the depth of grief over the loss of her husband and daughter in a tragic car accident, a little under 3 years ago. A ghost of her former ambitious and creative self, she now spends her days working as a mortuary-cosmetologist, tending to the bodies of the deceased. Her escape into work is uprooted one day when she discovers a mysterious woman on her table, who appears to be her mirror image. The identity of this woman leads Phoebe down an path that eerily crosses her own, and stirs up memories and grief that she thought she’d buried.
Although it’s primarily shelved as a mystery/thriller, In Another Light is a bit of a genre-bender that blends together mystery fiction with contemporary drama. And it does so with great success, managing to synergize the two together into more than the sum of its parts. Rather than focussing on a murder-mystery plot like many mysteries with the “Doppelganger-trope” do, we delve deep into the deceased woman’s life, instead of her death. It makes for a more emotional and personal story, which was a welcome addition to the mystery-elements.
That being said, emotional stories stand or fall with their characters to me, and unfortunately I didn’t relate to Phoebe the way I wanted to. Something about her characterization felt distant and it made it hard for me to fully invest myself into her as a character, especially when she makes some irrational and emotionally-driven decisions as the story progresses. What did come across strongly was Phoebe’s desire to uncover the truth, no matter the cost. It made the novel into quite the page-turner, that had me burning midnight oil.
Overall: a very enjoyable thriller, with surprising emotional depth that makes up for some more predictable and cliché parts and an ending that wasn’t 100% satisfying to me. If, amidst your Halloween-thrillers you’re looking for just that, I recommend you give this novel a try.
Many thanks to the publisher Lake Union for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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