by Ronlyn Domingue
Atria, September 13, 2005
Razi, the narrator and protagonist of The Mercy of Thin Air, is dead. The story moves back and forth between memories of her life before she drowns in the late 1920s and her observations on the present, over seventy five years later, where she lives "between" life and death. In common parlance, Razi is a ghost--she has no physical form, but she can see, hear, and smell everything around her in the living world, as well as moving objects and herself telekinetically.
At the beginning of the novel, Razi takes up residence with a young couple, Scott and Amy, by following a bookcase she knows from her life move from an estate sale into their home. As Scott and Amy's story unfolds in the present, so do Razi's memories of what happened between her and her fiancé, Andrew, in the years before her death. Slowly, the connection between Razi's past and her "present" become clear both to her and to the reader.
The Mercy of Thin Air is a good book. It's a bit reminiscent of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which I loved (and, I'm told, Alice Seibold's The Lovely Bones), in subject matter and in its deft navigation of the line between being a believable love story and just being goopy. It's a book about the supernatural in which the supernatural is not the point, and I like that. It's a quick, easy read (took me two days), good for a plane, the beach, or before bed down time. Not something I'd recommend a chapter-a-night approach to, though, as I found it very difficult to put down.
The Mercy of Thin Air is Ronlyn Domingue's first novel.