My review -
Eighteen year old Natalie is studying Art and spending some time in Florence. Her boyfriend Rory died in violent circumstances seven months previously and she is still grieving, to the extent that she hears his voice in her head, encouraging her to ‘join him’ in the after-life. While in Florence, she sees Arturo, handsome and talented, drawing a figure on the ground. Later, a man is killed on this spot, lying exactly as Arturo had portrayed him. Nat discovers that nobody else can see him or his drawing. She then sees the predicted death of a young girl and interferes, erasing the drawing. This pulls her in deeper to find out what’s going on. Meanwhile, the voice of her dead boyfriend calls to her like a siren-song.
I always enjoy Nigel Bird’s writing and he’s no one-genre author. I found this novella very gripping and intriguing. It proposes a means to the afterlife overseen by a few soul collectors the world over, in order to help souls who are lost through the violence of their passing. It’s a classic device in a supernatural story that an unquiet soul can’t rest and it’s a really unusual idea Nigel Bird has come up with here to postulate a way around this. Natalie interferes in the process by taking pity on the five year-old who is destined to die. I found myself thinking that it would be an impossible job for many of us. Who wouldn’t try to give a child a longer stay on earth? A quick read but, in places, a very exciting one.