3.5* – When I reviewed Nan Higgins’s debut novel, London Undone, I wrote that it felt as if the author had crammed a lot of things in just one story, as if she had so many things to say that she couldn’t choose. I got almost the opposite feeling with The Mortician’s Daughter, which felt a little flat. Both novels are well-written and promising, and I’m hoping for a “third time’s a charm” situation.
Aria has worked her whole life to become a singer and is on the verge of making her dream come true. All that crashes on her twenty-second birthday when she sees a ghost. Her plans come to a brutal stop as her father enrols her in ghost interpreter school. The only good thing about it is her classmate, Sloane. While Aria’s parents left her in the dark about the possibility of her having powers, Sloane knows all about it and is hoping for a career in the Criminally Demonic Unit.
The Mortician’s Daughter has a definite YA/NA feel. Both MCs are in their early twenties, both live with their parents (Sloane by choice, Aria not really). I like their interactions but the instalove is a bit much even for me. The I love yous seem to arrive when they’ve known each other for a couple of weeks at most.
While the main arc of the story is Aria’s discovery of a whole parallel universe she never imagined and her close encounters with a ghost stuck in the now, what I found most interesting – and underexploited – was Aria’s relationship with her parents. Finding out your father is a big gun in the afterlife business when you didn’t even know there was an afterlife business puts a ginormous strain on that relationship. Aria’s trust in her parents is understandably damaged, which impacts all her decisions, sometimes putting her (and Sloane) in danger.
This is the first book in a series, and I’m hoping Nan Higgins will give us more in-depth goings-on, more substance. From what I’ve read by her so far, I’m sure she’ll find some sort of balance between too-much and not-enough.