Science fiction and fantasy
by Steven Stromp
Meanwhile Mary is trying to understand her place in this world. She is immutable but rooted to the spot, so she enlists the help of Bluebell, a bluebird, to be her eyes and ears. She has observed the people who come to the graveyard to mourn, but she knows very little about what happens to the souls of the dead. Mary wants to discover what the church can teach her about what happens to the soul after death, and to understand the spiritual world.
The only dead person Mary has any contact with is Mrs Grant, the eccentric ghost of an old suicide. Along with two cheeky gargoyles and the cynical statue of Jesus, their banter lightens the mood. And the mood of Cracking Grace does need this touch of humour, because it is an incredibly harrowing novel. In places it is almost unbearably poignant.
This novel examines grief and coming to terms with loss and death. It deals with these kinds of feelings and experiences as much, if not more, than with metaphysical concepts.
What can a short work of fiction tell us about the afterlife, or the soul? We know that any conclusions the characters come to about these things will only apply to their fictional world. So it seems strange at first that Steven Stromp should even set his characters on this quest. But what is intriguing about this novel is the search for truth itself, the questions they ask and the places they look for answers. It's attraction is in such things as the contrast between Mary's unchanging, unmoving nature and the fragility of the mortal characters, and the opposition between the beauty Mary sees and the evil that exists.
Cracking Grace is an unusual, touching and ultimately uplifting novel that will leave you considering its themes for some time.
If you like this, try:Lost by Gregory Maguire
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Crossing the Meadow by Kfir Luzzatto
Kfir Luzzatto takes an intimate look at the world of ghosts.