The boy was so pale you would have thought he was a ghost. A wraith.
Something insubstantial that would vanish into nothing at all. His hair was the colour of moonlight, very fine and very straight, and his skin was milky-white with a dull translucence to it, like wax.
Indeed, so fair was he that at a distance he seemed to have no eyebrows or eyelashes at all and this incompleteness only emphasized his ephemeral appearance.
“Meow?” the boy said.
“Hello Conor”, James replied. “Won’t you come in?”
Bestselling author Torey Hayden’s novel is a fascinating study of a fractured family, a troubled child, and a psychiatrist’s attempts to rescue them.
Conor is nine and autistic, or at least this is what his mother, Laura, an aloof, self-absorbed novelist, thinks when she entrusts his care to child psychiatrist James Innes as a stop-gap while the family finds the boy a new residential placement. In contrast, Conor’s rancher father, embroiled in divorcing Laura, does not feel there is anything wrong with boy. Six year old sister Morgana insists Conor really does see ghosts.
Only when Laura falls into her role as a storytellerdoes James gain access to the complex turmoil engulfing the family, learning of Laura’s own difficult childhood, full of loneliness and abrupt change which combined with vivid imagination to create the fantasy figure of Torgon, a woman with sacred powers, a sort of alter ego with whom Laura establishes a rapport so profound that it has affected not only her life but the lives of all those around her.
Between his sessions with Conor and Laura’s haunting stories, James slowly uncovers a world where what is imagined is as real as what is physically present but is still not enough to contain the terrible truth that lies at the heart of Conor’s problems.
This is a rich, multi-layered novel, compellingly written, a feast for thinkers, especially those who enjoy pondering a book after they have turned the last page.
– Carol Thorson