Seanan McGuire is the Queen of Weird Books
I picked up Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day (heretofore known as The 4-D Experience) a couple weeks ago. I had a lot of fun reading Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), so I thought I’d take a peek and see what this book was all about.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day follows Jenna, a ghost living in New York. She died nearly forty years earlier, caught grief-stricken in a rainstorm after she learned of her sister’s suicide. Now, Jenna goes about her “life”, working at the suicide hotline, tending to her small herd of geriatric cats, chatting with other ghosts, and befriending the only witch she knows.
Jenna is comfortable in her routine, up until the other ghosts start disappearing. Much sought-after for their ability to make the living younger, ghosts can be trapped in glass and made to do the bidding of witches who keep them there. To find a witch, Jenna might have to use a witch. With her job and her cats depending on her, can Jenna keep from being trapped in glass herself?
The concept for Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is wild, especially for a novella. McGuire’s worldbuilding is wonderful and interesting, and the ghost-life concept plays out beautifully in a city like New York. The rules, upsides, and downsides of being a ghost provide a fun new take on death and fit together very neatly with how people currently think of abstract things like time and the persistence of memory.
If Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day has a pitfall, I think a bit of the story was sacrificed to make room for the worldbuilding, mostly some details near the end. I was most interested in explanations of the ups and downs of being a ghost, especially things like the ghost landlady who kept the property running after her husband met his dying day.
Read Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day if you’re into weird urban fantasy with a well-fleshed-out world of the dead.
Review by Griffin