Author: Lauta Whitcomb
Publication Date: 5/14/2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Blurb: Helen needed a body to be with her beloved and Jenny needed to escape from hers before her spirit was broken. It was wicked, borrowing it, but love drives even the gentlest soul to desperate acts.
When Jenny returns to her body, she finds that someone has been living her life while she was away. She doesn’t remember being Billy’s lover or defying her family. But now she is faced with the consequences. And Helen, who has returned to warn Jenny—to help her—finds herself trapped, haunting the girl she wished to save.
In this captivating companion novel to A Certain Slant of Light, the love story between Jenny and Billy begins out-of-body—where they can fly and move the stars--and continues into the tumultuous realm of the living, where they are torn away from each other even as they slowly remember their spirits falling in love.
How much recapping do you like in your sequels/companion novels? It appears that even I, a reader with a very short memory for details, have my limits. If a sequel verges on being 50% recap of its preceding story, then what's the point of its existence, really?
I remember A Certain Slant of Light to be a lovely, elegant, sensual and gently unsettling ghost story. (It's been years since I read it though, in fact, it was one of my first YA reads after, naturally, Twilight, so I can't be held fully accountable for my memories of it until I reread it, ok?) Under the Light is equally elegantly written. Laura Whitcomb published books on writing and indeed she knows what she is talking about, her prose is lovely, in my opinion. The last chapter is just gorgeous. But the plot, the plot! Where art thou?
The premise of Under the Light is that we follow up on Jenny and Billy once their bodies, previously possessed by Helen and James, are returned to them. A Certain Slant of Light left Jenny and Billy in quite a bind (possibly a pregnancy? ooh-la-la!), so I see how it would be interesting to see how they deal with their difficulties and with the realization that their bodies were inhabited and used by ghostly lovers. But so much of this new novel is taken up by Helen, who in this book returns to see Jenny through her ordeal, and Helen's recapping of what she and James did in the previous book, that there is hardly any space in this rather slight tome left to develop Jenny and Billy's story. This book thoroughly lacks in new material and good conflict. There are almost no new revelations or new developments. Jenny and Billy finding out what happened to their bodies? But WE already know! Any new stories with Jenny's parents? Hardly! Getting to know Billy a bit better? Eh, a bit. It seems, everything exciting happened in the first book, and this follow-up just ties some loose ends, and barely offers anything more. We do learn about Billy's reasons for abandoning his body, however this plot line is fairly insignificant and short. The way I see it, the novel would have been better if Helen weren't in it at all. She is fairly useless as a helper anyway.
In the end, the only thing that Under the Light achieves is make you want to reread A Certain Slant of Light. I recommend you all do the same and don't bother with this companion. I feel that A Certain Slant of Light is a better book if it is experienced as a standalone.