Yes, this is the Meg Cabot who writes the Princess Diaries books. Now, let's put that in a box and set it to one side, because she is a versatile writer who cannot be stuffed neatly in one box like we all like to do. She's also written the YA series Abandon about a young woman who becomes involved with the guy who looks after the Underworld (Still waiting patiently for the next book in that series, Ms. Cabot. It's been three years, though. Just saying.). She has an adult mystery series about a full-figured woman (The Heather Wells Series). There's also the adult series Insatiable about a woman who can tell by looking at you when you're going to die. She also has a tween series called Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls. And let's not forget the various single title YA books like Jinx about a girl with bad luck, or her many adult romance books.
Now that that's out of the way, this book is the seventh book in the Mediator series. The first book, Shadowland, came out in 2000. The sixth book, Twilight (Heaven Sent) was published in 2004. I read these books about ten years ago, or so. It is a fabulous series and she wrapped it up all neatly with a very lovely bow, so I was rather pleasantly surprised to see that she was writing another book in the series that picks up about six years after the end of the series. This book, however, will be found in the adult section, which makes sense, as Suze Simon, is now an adult, and it gives Cabot a lot of freedom with the characters and the plot. If you haven't read the series, you will not be lost. You will however know some things that could taint your experience if you decide to go back and read the series (which you really should). Of course the argument can be made that after watching the Star Wars Trilogy, you know a lot of what is going to happen going into the Prequels (And no, I am not comparing her wonderful books to those movies, that were not, perhaps, what they could have been). So, it's your decision.
Suze (Susannah) Simon is getting her PhD in psychology so she can become a counselor. Jesse de Silva, her fiancee now, is a medical resident. She is hoping desperately that they will finally get married next year as she has been waiting a very long time for him and Jesse respects her way too much to sleep with her before marriage, much less live together. He's also Catholic. And died in 1850. So his views can be a bit old fashioned. When they both went off to college, he insisted on keeping in touch by letter. She's finally gotten him to use a phone now. She's not having much luck though, on dragging him completely into the 21st century. Suze is doing an unpaid internship at her old high school, Junipero Serra Mission Academy, where Father Dominic is still principal and still offering up advise and help. The school is also an historical site, so they get tourists all the time and have a gift shop, which helps pay to keep the place open. Suze's mouth always did get her into trouble and now there are swear jars in the office, her apartment, and other places, as some are trying to get her to clean up a bit (The really, really bad swear words you will have to fill in with your imagination, as they do not appear on the page. And that is not complaint about the book, by the way, I respect and admire Ms. Cabot for this choice.). Like that is ever going to happen.
Suze's unofficial, other nonpaying job, is as a mediator. A mediator is someone who can see the dead who haven't realized that it really is time to move on, even if she has to kick their butt to get them to do it. On rare occasions, the NCDP (non compliant dead person) may just need you to get a message to someone so they can move on. Usually it's much more complicated than that and the ghosts are not always nice. Jesse was a ghost that haunted the home her and her mother moved into when her widowed mother married Andy Ackerman (of TV show "Handy Andy" fame). Andy had three teenage sons: Jake ("Dopey"), Brad ("Sleepy") and David ("Doc"). There was also Max the dog, who could sense ghosts, when he wasn't busy chasing Spike the cat. Suze's mom and Andy have sold the house and moved to L.A. Jake is a successful pot shop businessman, Brad knocked up his girlfriend, Debbie (Suze's enemy) right after high school with triplets and works at her father's BMW lot, and David is at Harvard studying to be a lawyer. Suze gets along a lot better with Jake and Brad now than when they were teens (her and Doc always got along and he knows about her abilities and has helped her in the past).
While at work Suze gets an e-mail from the last person she ever wanted to hear from again: Paul Slater. Paul, it seems, now owns her old house, the house Jesse died in. This is when the first of many mistakes she is going to make, happen in this book. She calls Paul. It seems that his grandfather has died and left him everything, including the old Egyptian texts that he had. Both Paul and his grandfather were mediators. According to these texts, if you tear down the place that was once haunted, " a demon disturbed from its final resting place will unleash the wrath of eternal hell-fire upon all it encounters, cursing even those it once held dear with the rage of a thousand suns." and that "any human who attempts to resurrect a corpse will be the first to suffer its wrath when the demon inside it is woken." When you do something there is always a cost. This is apparently the cost. But, Paul of course, will not tear down the house if Suze will have dinner with him and all that comes after it. Paul was always a sleaze, especially on graduation night. Sometimes, though, he could be helpful. This, however, was not going to be one of those times. It seems he was still holding a grudge on loosing out on her to Jesse. And Suze can't tell Jesse. She never told Jesse about what happened on graduation night for a reason. She'd like to keep him out of jail. He's really lose it if he knew about this. She would just have to put Paul off until she could figure something out.
From one crisis to another. In walks Sister Ernestine with teenage girl, Becca, and her not so friendly ghost companion clinging to her, nearly dragging her down. While Sister Ernestine went into the office to call Becca's stepmother, Suze gets a look at her bleeding arm. The letters STU have been cut into it and Suze is pretty sure this is not the first time Becca has done this. The big question is, is the NCDP the cause of it, or is it something else? When she tries to tend to her wounds, she finds out just how powerful the little angelic ghost is, because she come right after her, believing that she is trying to hurt Becca. After an "earthquake" (they have a lot of those at the school), Suze has a few moments to try to get some information out of Becca. It seems her mother lives in New York now after an "accident" and when Suze asks about the horse necklace she is fingering, she clams up. The NCDP, whose name is Lucia, was wearing a riding outfit and holding a stuffed horse. Becca's stepmother then shows up and turns out to be Kelly Prescott, Paul's old girlfriend from high school. Poor Becca.
Suze turns to her good friend CeeCee, an albino she met in high school who became a huge help to her with her awesome research skills. CeeCee now works at the local paper She's not too happy to be looking up the name of another dead person when she only has the first name and no real idea when or where the person died. CeeCee is amazing, but she can't perform miracles, but this is for a kid, so she's game. Suze goes home to her apartment, which is protected to the hilt against humans and ghosts alike. The pool, however, is not, and when she goes for a swim Lucia shows up attacks her. Jesse and Suze had a connection when he was a ghost that never really went away when he was brought back to life. He always seems to know when she's in trouble. Like now, which is a good thing, because he is there to pull her out of the water away from Lucia. Of course now, Jesse wants to have her exorcised and sent to hell. He is a macho, old-fashioned guy who doesn't like anyone coming after the woman he loves, who can usually take care of herself.
Father Dominic has finally returned back from his conference full of apologies for not noticing Lucia in the first place. Father Dom, is also a mediator and at the beginning of each school year he looks over each child carefully for spirits. The mission is also blessed often to try to keep spirits out as well, not that this works all the time. Father Dom insists on going over to Becca's house to try to mediate the situation and Lucia sends him down the stairs breaking many bones and sending him to the ICU. Suze is able to convince Jesse not to hunt down Lucia and exorcise her when she shows him the article about her CeeCee was able to dig up, once Father Dom made the connection as to who she might be. Becca and Lucia Martinez were friends in first grade at Sacred Trinity when she died from a horrible horse riding "accident" (the horse was also put down). Lucia is still protecting Becca from someone who could harm her from that time period. All they have to do is convince a really angry, confused ghost to stop trying to kill them because they are here to help both her and Becca and to somehow get Becca to talk about what happened to Lucia all those years ago. Piece of cake, right? Yeah, no.
On top of that Suze still has Paul to deal with and to try to keep Jesse from finding out about it, which isn't easy as he is rather perceptive. But Suze always thinks of something. Does it always work out the way it's supposed to? Of course not. Nothing in life ever does. But that's what makes it exciting. And terrifying. This is, of course, why Suze really needs those boots she was bidding for on-line. This book is filled with lots of surprises and old friends. I was beyond pleased with it. I was over the moon and into another galaxy. I was quite content with the series ending the way it had, but I so very glad to be given this gift. Meg Cabot has really topped herself.
Note: I am rather embarrassed by this, but feel you should have a little fun at my expense. I was watching Jeopardy last week and the category was something like statues in state capital buildings. They showed a picture of a man holding a cross and said that this statue was in California and was of a man who had just been canonized by Pope Francis for setting up missions. This was the day after I had complete this book and I'm looking at the statue wondering who it was, thinking that it wasn't St. Francis, who is pretty much the only person I could think of. A woman rang in and said Father Serra and my jaw dropped because it never occurred to me that Father Junipero Serra was an actual person. It's an unusual name, to my ears. A name only a creative mind could come up with. In my defense, one, though I am a history nut, my knowledge of eighteenth century California history is pretty much non-existent, and two, I'm not Catholic. It turns out, Father Serra went up and down the coast building missions to convert the Native Americans, by force, if necessary (depending, of course on your viewpoint and which texts you read). Suze, by the way, is accused of chopping off the head of the Father Serra statue at the mission while in high school.
Note: I found out after I read this that there is an e-book short story that came out a month before this did titled "Proposal". Downloading now.
Link to Amazon: