Book Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: April 16th, 2014
~ Synopsis ~
When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says “Goodbye,” and Sends you to the next world.
After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her.
Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
~ Excerpt ~
THE YOUNG ORPHAN
Sophie was twelve years old when her parents died. Three days later, she sat on a hill overlooking her town’s cemetery and watched the gravediggers chip away at the hard winter ground for the better part of the day. Sophie watched as the sun began to set and two holes appeared in the ground, large enough to fit her parents’ bodies. When she saw the small procession of mourners carry two cheap wooden caskets out of the funeral hall and down the crooked path to the cemetery, she stood up on that hill and walked the other way.
Though they had taught Sophie about the pilgrimage north to the City of the Dead, and though they told their daughter she would have to Send them one day, her parents had died suddenly and never fully prepared her for the realities of life, death, and the journey that lay ahead of her.
In her innocence, she didn’t understand the full weight of her parents’ death. It was just another problem to solve, and as she walked away from the cemetery, back into town and towards her grandmother’s house, she settled on the single obvious solution to her parents’ passing. She would take the pilgrimage north, yet, while the other mourners would travel to say “Goodbye” to their loved ones, Sophie would implement a different plan. She would find her parents’ spirits in the City of the Dead, remind them where they belonged, and return them back home to be with her once more.
Sophie had never heard of the dead coming back from the north, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming of returning to life what death had claimed from her.
~ Review by Angela ~
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
This book was unlike anything that I have ever read. It’s a short story and doesn’t take too long to read. It is a very interesting premise in that the young girl wants to bring her dead parents home instead of “sending” them on to the afterlife. She can’t tell anyone that is what she wishes to do this or she will not be allowed to go North. She feels dead inside after being left with her cold-hearted grandmother. She has no one to love or anyone to love her. She just goes day to day trying to survive until she can make the trip North.
The story is captivating and Craig writes in such a way that you feel everything right along with Sophie: the joy, the heartbreak, the pain. It’s a gripping story that you can’t put down until you find out what happens to poor little Sophie. She does a lot of growing up in this story and it’s unsure if she will survive til the end. You tend to do a lot of internal reflection when reading this tale. Even though it is listed as a middle grade book, I believe everyone will benefit from reading about Sophie. I give it 4 books.
~ About the Author ~
Craig Staufenberg is a writer and filmmaker living in NYC.
~ Author Links ~