Among the Dead and Dreaming by Samuel Ligon
Leapfrog Press: 4/5/16
eBook review copy; 240 pages
paperback ISBN-13: 9781935248781
Among the Dead and Dreaming by Samuel Ligon is a highly
recommended novel that looks at events through the perspective of
multiple characters. The novel opens with a tragic accident involving
Cynthia and Kyle. The two are old friends, but currently the significant
others of Mark and Nikki. Their deaths bring Mark and Nikki into an
Nikki has been running since she left her home at seventeen. She has ran
from one relationship to another and across the country. When she meets
Cash in Austin, it may have been the best and worst mistake she ever
made. The worst mistake because Cash was domineering and controlling. He
became dangerous and a stalker when Nikki tried to leave him. She kills
him and escapes. Only she knows that the best thing that happened to
her, her beloved daughter Alina, is Cash's child, something she will
never tell Alina about.
Now Cash's brother, Burke, is out of prison. He has found Nikki's phone
number, photos of her and Cash, and he's fantasized about her to
extraordinary creepy levels. He is losing control over reality, but it
looks like he is going to be stalking Nikki with dangerous intent,
Mark is full of regret over the loss of Cynthia and suspects that
something was going on between her and Kyle. He's mired in reflecting
upon his relationship with her and speculating over what might have
been. He ponders his past political career. He thinks he sees some of
his own distress reflected in Nikki and thinks he should talk to her
about his suspicions, which opens them up to an uneasy relationship.
Alina, thirteen, knows that Kyle loved Nikki, but Nikki didn't
reciprocate the same level of love and devotion. Nikki always holds some
part of her back. Alina, however, adored Kyle and can't believe he is
gone. She's angry at her mother's choices and her clinging to Alina.
Ligon has these characters and others who were involved during various
parts of their stories chime in with their side of things and what they
think. This is not confusing because each chapter opens with the name of
the character speaking. It makes for an interesting story since it is
told through the perspective of the individuals involved. While one
person may assign a specific motive to another person's actions, that
isn't always the case. Sometimes the truth lies somewhere in-between.
All of these characters are searching for love: the love of a mother for
a child (even if it becomes clinging and overbearing); the love between
men and women; the love between friends; the love lost; the love
sought. Many of them are scared of love even while they seek it. They
don't really know what it is they want. They all seek a place of
acceptance and safety, however unlikely it seems.
There is a real tension that builds as Burke becomes increasingly
obsessed with Nikki - and unhinged from reality. This is another novel
that isn't necessarily an easy novel to read. There are adult situations
and violent scenes. The fear in these characters becomes palatable;
they fear for their futures, over their past, and what will happen
next. Nikki, Alina, and Mark are so lost and searching for some
stability that you can't help but feel for them and hope they survive
the coming encounter.
The fact that Ligon manages to give all these characters a different
voice and point of view in the narrative is a good indication of his
skill and artistry. The story flows smoothly and deftly, even when the
scene is grim, somber, or disturbing.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Leapfrog Press for review