January 17, 2017

The Secret Life of Souls - Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee

Pegasus Books, November 8, 2016.

Three Stars

This is a novel of psychological suspense about a troubled family and their dog – believe me, it is much darker than it sounds. This is not a feel-good story about a girl and her loyal pet. The Cross family is emotionally dysfunctional and their poor decisions are continuously shocking. They face life-changing events, without any sense of emotional growth, making things even worse.

Delia Cross is a talented, up and coming actress, and at eleven years old, her career is just beginning. Her successes support her entire family, including her father Bart, who spends money faster than she can make it, and stage mom Pat, who is living vicariously through her daughter. Delia’s twin brother Robbie just wants a normal life, but he becomes reclusive and introverted in the shadow of his famous sister. Between her mother’s pill-popping, her father’s heavy drinking, and her brother’s practical jokes, Delia struggles to relax during her time off.

The family dog Caity seems to be the only calming force in Delia’s life – the two share a special connection, and Delia relies on her for a sense of quiet understanding after a difficult day. A Queensland Heeler, Caity is an incredibly loyal dog, although not all members of the family deserve it. When a tragic accident puts Delia’s career on hold, everyone in the Cross family reevaluates their roles in her life. Pat tries to turn Delia’s accident into a publicity stunt, but the young girl stays true to herself and her own morals. Caity the dog seems to be Delia’s only supporter, and she tries to protect the girl from her family, leading to shocking consequences.

Caity cannot always protect Delia, but they know they can be together, even in the afterlife. This novel is emotional and sometimes melodramatic, but never sentimental. The relationship between a girl and her dog is powerful, and their connection is eerie at times – this was reminiscent of some of Stephen King’s novels, which is not surprising considering he provided a cover quote for this novel. The Secret Life of Souls is surprising in plot as well as tone, and while I wasn’t expecting the direction it took, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened at the end.

I received this book from Pegasus Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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