Friday, October 27, 2017

Book Review: 'SEER' by Eli Bloom

California author Eli Bloom writes young adult books from his home in Los Angeles where he ‘lives with his wife and three cats – one named Grace, of all things. He believes in ghosts.’ And that is all the biography available for this debut outing for Eli. We can sense his spirit and sense of humor but also his tangible interests in supernatural – ghosts in particular, if they are still considered paranormal after reading his book SEER.

There once was a time when stories of ghosts and other potentially frightening beasties were considered off limits reading material for young adults, the fear that such tales had the potential of altering mentation in later life. Now, however, when young adults are so caught up with the zombies, the undead, vampires, and monsters not only in movies but on regular television and video games, a tasty ghost story seems mild and in demand. So this beautifully crafted debut novel will likely find an eager audience, demanding follow-up books – a fact that should please Eli!

But there are ghost stories and ghost stories and the means by which Eli Bloom molds his tale is so meticulously well crafted that is it becomes a story that marries crime with the other world. Story first, comments to follow: ‘Fifteen-year-old Grace “Gray” Fable can speak to the dead. When her dad moves from Los Angeles to be with his mysterious girlfriend, Gray must attend notorious Willowbrook High School, the scene of a mass shooting five years earlier. When she meets the ghosts of those who died that tragic day – including the school shooter himself – she must uncover a dark secret to lay the victims to rest, and find peace for their families before it’s too late to stop another tragedy.’

To set this story in motion we first learn of Gray’s childhood obsession with ‘the woman who lives in the closet’ – a figment of her imagination, or is it? It is the manner in which we move from age six to age fifteen that creates a rather unforgettable character. The story deserves individual investigation by the reader, so no spoilers here.

But there is a quality to Eli’s writing that approaches poetic philosophy as we learn from the following – ‘I had come to understand the pain; it was part of me like death was part of life. I was already living in the afterlife – a time after the difficulty of a hard life – which could be accessed even when you were alive. I no longer thought I’d live out my days as some kind of demented hermit. There were a lot of people out there who I wanted to help. I felt like my life was just beginning. Hazel told me that words had immense power. A gun just broke the flesh, while words could reach thousands of minds at once. There was one other thing I could still do to help banish evil from the world. I could tell people my story. A book was like dozens of different spells all at once. People could read the book and the spells would come to life. Spells about love and forgiveness and overcoming hate. A world where death was not the end, and loved ones were never truly gone - they were just waiting for us to replace fear with hope; for light to overtake the dark. Maybe only some people would believe me, maybe some wouldn’t, but there was power even in a story. It could change how people think. So she told me to write down my story and leave nothing untold. And so I did’.

This may be a debut novel, but it is a book of substance as well as a fine scary read for the eager minds of those who love the supernatural. Eli Bloom is making his mark! Grady Harp, August 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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