“Cars pass by. Birds chirp. Time ticks. The world continues along, unfazed by her suicide.”
When a book introduces itself as an erotic romance featuring the ghost of a dead lover, you might naturally expect a more explicit take on a popular 1990 film, but Matthew Snee’s short novel, The Year I Slept, doesn’t go down that route.
These encounters are strictly of the flesh and blood variety (among other fluids). In a generous budget-saving concession to any filmmakers who are thinking about adapting it, the supernatural elements only show up in the talky bits in-between.
If the seal of quality erotic fiction is that the steamy scenes are balanced by a decent plot, this has both, but the sharp dichotomy doesn’t make for the most coherent read. There are two women in Emerson Ketes’s life – the morose, mysterious dead one and the vibrant living one – but since they’re kept strictly separate, the story doesn’t fit together as well as its characters do.
“I missed the quiet of the drowning. Ever since that day blue has been my favourite color.”
While it may not make the most of its premise, it’s through the characters that the writing really shines. The author claims to have spent nine years writing this 150-page book, which suggests most of that time was spent in deep research mode by living it to some degree (ghostly apparitions excepted?).
It’s a complex melting pot of love, loss, guilt, grief, depression and carefree abandon, and with the sole exception of a rival lover whose exaggerated awfulness stretches credibility (maybe I’ve just been fortunate in my own encounters in life), the male and female characters are handled with equal finesse. That’s no small feat, considering this is where even some of the best writers fall down.
If the supernatural aspect appeals to you, you might be disappointed by what mostly amounts to soul-searching and could just be the figment of a bereaved imagination. But if you don’t really care about all that and you’re just after something spicy, you’ll be well catered for.