Desert Isle Keeper
This book was everything I didn’t know I needed this winter. Amid a haze of historical and contemporary romances with perky young heroines along with the occasional fantasy romance, Suddenly Psychic stands out. It’s a paranormal women’s fiction book which sees women in their mid-forties developing psychic powers – and if that doesn’t sound like a must-read, I don’t know what does.
Robin, Val, and Monica are three friends in the town of Glimmer Lake who are each dealing with dissatisfaction in their lives. Val is a single mom with a useless ex, Monica recently lost her husband, and Robin’s life is stagnating, as she finds herself waking up each day wondering, Is this all there is? The three get together for Monica’s forty-fifth birthday, but amid all the usual plans, something very unusual happens. When avoiding a deer in the road, Robin veers their car straight into Glimmer Lake. Miraculously, they all walk away unharmed… but changed.
I won’t go into too much detail about what powers they each develop – because that discovery is part of the fun of reading the book – but suffice to say, each friend acquires some new paranormal abilities. And as they piece together what happened, Robin, Val, and Monica find a decades-old mystery on their hands. Robin saw a man in the water with them when their car went down, and the three friends agree to do a little sleuthing to discover what happened to him.
I’m sure I could gush for days about all the things I liked about this book, but I’ll try to just hit the big ones. There’s a wonderful backbone of female friendship and empowerment here, but as the story is more focused on Robin, it also explores themes of a marriage in trouble. It’s not that either Robin or Mark (her husband) has done anything wrong, but as their daughter turns eighteen and they approach the empty-nester stage of life, Robin realizes she’s no longer satisfied to look at her future and see just more of the same. While it’s easy to blame that boredom on Mark, over the course of the book Robin takes a hard look at herself and addresses the role she has played in their miscommunication. Watching her rediscover herself and the pieces that work about her marriage is beautiful.
The idea of personal growth for women in their forties is a central theme of this book, and I loved it. So often we default to heroines in their twenties and thirties in the romance and women’s fiction genres, as if that’s when your full character is developed so you don’t need to play more than a supporting role after that. Suddenly Psychic tells the story of mature women dealing with aches in their knees, adult children, and life changes, all in the midst of a crazy adventure and burgeoning psychic powers. Robin, Val, and Monica are hilarious, heart-warming, and real. I loved seeing them all develop as they learned their powers and took stock of what was missing from their lives.
If there is a weak point in this story, and I don’t know that there is one really, it would be the mystery. Once enough pieces are uncovered, the ultimate outcome is pretty clear, so I wasn’t kept guessing for very long. But that said, I actually enjoyed the mystery plot. Even if it was a bit predictable, it made for a great story which I was eager to see resolved. And in any case, this was clearly a book about Robin and her friends where there happened to be a mystery, not the other way around.
Though we’re only a few months in, I’m already confident Suddenly Psychic will find its way to my Best of 2020 list. This book and its characters struck a chord with me, and I’m not going to forget it soon.