Jaime Lee Moyer’s gift for storytelling is evident in Delia’s Shadow. Moyer beautifully captures elegance and thrill into a timeless story. With clarity and detail, you are transported to San Francisco of yesteryear and quickly become convinced that séances and spiritualists are not merely a fad but truth. Each turn and twist is done with charm and grace, bringing a truly entertaining story.
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again. And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.
From the opening sequence, I knew I would like Moyer’s style. As a fan of classic mysteries, there was something comfortingly similar in the way Moyer told her tale. The pace was just right for the genre, neither too fast nor too slow, and truly helped establish the tone. Like any good mystery, I was captivated without realizing it, enraptured in the world and time period. Moyer’s take of San Francisco wasn’t overly detailed but instead she highlighted something anyone can relate to- the concept of going home after a long time spent away. This helped blur the lines of what was true for everyone and what is unique to San Francisco.
One of the highlights of Moyer’s writing style is her decision to switch point of view in her chapters and as she does, switch in and out of first person. This gave great insight into the events that took place away from the main character. Another notable aspect of Delia’s Shadow is the quite evident romantic aspect. This didn’t bother me as much as I had expected because there was a understated genuineness to it.
The characters within Delia’s Shadow are quite indicative of what one might expect from the early twentieth century. However, it’s a testament to Moyer that no character felt too clichéd and each felt fully realized even if we only saw the character in passing. One of my favorite characters was perhaps the one which bordered a cliché most of all. Isadora was an exceptional spiritualist with somewhat shocking bohemian lifestyle choices. What made her fascinating was how much she truly cared about those around her- living and dead alike.
Moyer has a unique gift for making readers feel invested in the story and characters alike, a trait which is truly valuable. I found Delia’s Shadow to be a refreshing novel which held my attention and ultimately, made me feel transported. I look forward to what stories Moyer weaves next.