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Linghun - by Ai Jiang

At its core, Linghun is a book about grief, refusing to move on, wallowing in the misery of losing a loved one, and forever living in the past. The concept here, of a village of people lost in their memories, refusing to embrace life and instead recapturing elements of all that they have lost, is, frankly, brilliant.

Ai Jiang’s debut is superb in concept, voice, and delivery. It’s a book to devour, you are going to read it in one sitting, and the book’s horror is not the type that comes out of the blue to startle you, it’s not psychological horror, where you are genuinely scared for your life and the lives of the characters you empathize with, it’s the slow, dawning horror that there is little left to salvage from a family refusing to move on, to the extent of alienating their other children in the hopes of regaining a lost loved one – another moment with something that can never be what it once was.

I loved the imagery of the returned soul, almost unrecognizable to the person that had let go, the MC viewing it as a sentient faceless mist -that becomes less defined the longer it dwells. I loved that Ai didn’t try to change that, we don’t require a threat to feel horror, that ugly feeling that we know things cannot end well once characters embark on self-deception.

The village of HOME is well built, I loved the people living on the lawns of those fortunate enough to buy houses, that fantastic image of ignoring people living literally on your doorstep, less well off. Ignore them, and they’ll go away – and one boy’s fight to escape that future.

The concept of being so focussed on one goal – be it seeing a loved lost one, or being given the chance to fight against others to be given that goal – to the exclusion of everything else – to the exclusion of living – defines the book and its message. Are you chasing a lost dream, the past, something that can never be what it once was, or worse, are you waiting on the sidelines for a better life, solely focused on a dream that can never arrive, refusing to depart the rat race, your only focus the lifestyle of others better off than you? Always dreaming of what someone else has?

I’ll say that the ending petered out. I know others have said how strong the ending is, and I do wonder about that emotional attachment to the story, for me, It felt as if it was going somewhere, but like the characters forever tied to their dreams, the satisfaction at the end of that wait wasn’t realized. That doesn’t detract from the story itself, which was mesmerizing.

I honestly didn’t want to leave.

5 out of 5 stars. Well worth the read.

My thanks to BookSirens, and Ai, for the review copy.


You can buy a copy of Linghun by clicking on the appropriate Amazon link, below:

You can check out Ai's website, HERE.

You can follow Ai on Twitter, HERE.

You can follow AI on Instagram, HERE.


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