It is 1929 in New Orleans, and Raziela Nolan is in love. Smart, beautiful and fiercely determined, Raziela has found her match in Andrew O'Connell, a promising young law student. But then a freak accident causes her death. In the split second a soul has to pick its post-mortal path, Raziela can't bear to leave Andrew behind and her spirit is unable to find its way to the afterlife. Instead, it gets stuck in the "between" a level that exists between life and the world that follows.

Forbidden by the laws of the realm to haunt her loved ones, Raziela finds herself drawn 70 years after her death to a young couple just starting their lives together. Upon moving into their house, Raziela unearths the tragedy in their past and, in the process of coming to terms with her own death, does what she can to heal the broken hearts of those she haunts.The Mercy of Thin Air, surprising connections surface between the tales. Delicately avoiding veering into science-fiction territory, Domingue approaches this ghostly world with a blunt tone that leads readers to instantly accept it as fact. "The day I die, I glance at Daddy's newspaper before I leave the house," Raziela states painfully plainly.

Notice the tense in that sentence, as this deft rhetorical trick is truly the source of the novel's pulse. The contemporary portion of the story is written in the past tense, yet Raziela narrates the events of her own life in present tense. By doing so, Domingue adroitly paints Raziela not as an omniscient spirit, but as what she truly is: a young girl coming to terms with her abruptly truncated life.

Tracking an extraordinary love affair over nearly three-quarters of a century, The Mercy of Thin Air is a testament to the power of a love so strong it knows no bounds, even the seeming finality of death. Iris Blasi is a writer in New York City.

comments powered by Disqus