The beauty of DELIA'S SHADOW starts at the cover for me; haunting, rich, and mysterious. The concept of a haunting in history, pairing paranormal themes with the grace and politeness of turn of the century San Francisco was an irresistible lure.
And while those promises were upheld, I struggled to find an emotional connection with Delia. Even the nature of her haunting is so ubiquitous, so evenly accepted by those around her, that it becomes simple mechanics rather than a dramatic twist. I expected Delia to have a singular ability, but rather, Moyer writes a world where the veil between the living and the dead is quite thin, and several characters have their own interactions with ghosts before too long.
That initial change in perspective (from "singular ghost whisperer" to "everyone seems on board with ghosts"), made me no less interested, but the dry delivery and shallow descriptions made the story skim along without pulling me deeper. DELIA'S SHADOW is a mystery without drama, a romance without mystery, and a ghost story without any restraint. Dead bodies and haunts fill the house, but ultimately seem no more frightening than party guests. I waited for Shadow's dream sequences to unfold, I waited for Delia to unbend enough to explore the phenomena haunting her, and all the while Gabe and Sophie and Jack clicked through the story like a clockwork cast. Part of this emotional distance is due to the time period, and that works, but part of it comes from the writing. Moyer's San Francisco never came alive for me, and the flat impressions of her characters provided the bearest glimpses of the world around them. I felt like I was reading lists of he-said, she-said rather than immersing myself in Delia's present.
Despite those issues, the premise and it's execution is enough of a ghost story to be worth a read for some. Those who like period drama may enjoy this historical mystery, with shadowy victims walking amongst the living as they try to catch a killer.
Full review to follow.