4 out of 4 stars
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Jane Takako Wolfsheim is saved from a nightmare and a near-death experience by Jorge Luis Borges, a seemingly homeless man she met at the park. However, she is hospitalized for two years following the incident before her daily seizures vanish as mysteriously as they came, permitting her to get a job working for her least favorite person, Martin Schneider. The direction of events leads her to meet Jorge again—this time in an antique shop—while on an errand for her boss. This leaves Jane wondering whether this is fate or a perfectly executed manipulation brought about by her extraordinary gift. This gift was the ability to dream up alternative worlds and live in them.
After Jane meets Borges, so many things begin to happen that make her question her sanity. She falls in love with him and unconsciously activates her gift. After her first "travel," her parents are murdered, and she is the main suspect. Martin, her father's former protégé, is exposed and killed by Borges for the murder and a scheme to leverage Jane's mental health to milk a large inheritance left by her father—an inheritance even Jane didn't know about. However, her encounters with Bashô and the Daibutsu of Kamakura raise questions and doubts about everything that is going on, especially about Borges.
My Travels With a Dead Man by Steve Searls is a one-of-a-kind story. In my opinion, this book could be lumped into any of the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural and crime thriller, mystery, and more. Still, it can't be comprehensively defined by any one of these genres. The plot was extraordinary, and the author's skill at weaving the characters and events into this unique tale was legendary. The book had me in knots and twists, trying to make sense of it all. For a good part of the book, like Jane herself, I couldn't decipher reality from her travels. I didn't even know about her gift for a while. Upon discovering her gift, I thought it would explain everything, but the author still managed to keep me guessing as I read. This was the best part of the book for me.
Steve's writing style and scene description were smooth and detailed. The details were just enough for me to imagine whatever he was describing easily. The pacing of the story was slow in the beginning but gradually picked up as it unfolded.
In the first half of the book, I felt that many facts and events were disjointed and lacked coherence and comprehension. I didn't appreciate this at first. As I read, though, I realized it was a deliberate attempt by the author to maintain suspense, and it worked with me. I loved the characters and the excellent job the author did in developing them. Besides Jane, I loved Bashô and his very thoughtful lines of poetry.
I could only find less than a handful of grammar and typographical errors in this book. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars due to its professional editing, character development, and the suspense in the story. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy sci-fi, supernatural thrillers, or any of the genres I mentioned earlier. I don't think it is suitable for minors due to its sexual content and profanity.
My Travels With a Dead Man
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