Wow, it took me eight whole days to read this book at only 317 pages. I am definitely slacking. This is not good. I still have five other books to read this month (two of which are actually sequels to this book). However, I did enjoy it. I got to rediscover most of the characters and events in this book since it's been quite a while since I have read it (of course, I've read it already XD).
The mood and style of this book is hard to pull off. I probably couldn't do it, though I've thought about it once or twice. For instance, one of the character's name is Somber Kitty. It's simple, naming exactly what the cat is and what he's like where most names are just, well, names. Yet it completely fits in this novel. Look at this sentence from page 17: At the edges of the grass, the trees watcher her. They knew better. Or this one from page 24: The truth was, nobody had ever said they needed her. "Mew," was all she got in reply from someone who needed her very much. If a cat-to-English dictionary had been handy, and May had looked up "mew," it would have translated into something like "curiosity killed the cat." They show the mood of the story pretty well. I love reading things like this. I don't really know why, it just seems so writerly (using one of Madeline's words) to me.
I did notice a few bumps in the writing flow. Example, pg. 226-227: And all around them stood a horde of stunned spirits, frozen in their activities of moments ago-pushing baby carriages, driving carriages, selling soul cakes from gleaming carts. There are about two or three other instances like this.Where the sentence structure is great but there is just one or two words that just don't fit in right. I know this can seem kind of nitpicky but people (especially me) notice these things and for a split second it throws off the story. Some people really get into a book and it's little things like that that jar them unexpectedly back into reality.
I love those books that have their own little things that make them 'tick', for lack of a better word. For instance, in Somber Kitty's search for May he periodically says, in his own little cat language, "Meay?" as if he is calling for her. The author picked a name for her main character than a cat could pronounce. Little things that are interwoven into the story like that just stick out to me (they give me a nice feeling, kind of like all things happen for a reason, but not exactly). There are quite a few little things like that in this book, but I won't give away any more.
Overall, the characters are believable though ghosts and spirits and specters aren't real (that's been proven anyway), there is always something happening within the plot, and it's not incredibly freaky like some life-after-death books can be. I suggest reading it and it's successors (which my next two reviews will be based upon).
The next book along the Reading Trail? May Bird Among the Stars by Jodi Lynn Anderson.
(Oh, and, 23 days until National Novel Writing Month.)