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Against A Brightening Sky
by Jamie Lee Moyer
Tor, $25.99, 336pp
Published: October 2015

"Against A Brightening Sky" is the last of a paranormal trilogy featuring Delia Martin Ryan. This book works as a standalone read; though once you dip into it, you'll be hooked on the story, the writing and the characters and you'll want to go back to see how it all began. The first book in the series is "Delia's Shadow" and that's followed by "A Barricade in Hell." If you enjoy well-written paranormal stories, then I'd highly recommend the series.

Once again, the author lets Delia tell us her story from a first person perspective, while also letting the other characters speak and interact along the way. Delia has the gift, or some may say curse, of seeing ghosts. She is married to police captain Gabe Ryan and they've both learned a lot in the last few years about how to deal with the presence of ghosts appearing on a regular basis, whether it's to ask for Delia's help or to bring them harm.

The setting is San Francisco in 1919. The world is a different place after the end of the Great War. Prohibition is on the horizon, worker unions are starting to form and Russian immigrants have made their way into the city, many still living in fear from the Bolsheviks.

The story begins when Delia sees a vision of a regal looking woman who follows her around in reflective surfaces and is resistant to Delia's banishment spells. The ghost warns her of impending danger during a St. Patrick's Day parade, which saves her and her friends in the nick of time. Delia will not soon forget the fear and horror of that day. Normal people begin violently rioting in the streets, snipers from rooftops shoot wildly into the crowd and explosions erupt all around them. The ghosts of young and old alike pop into existence, drawn to her and Connor, the son of her dear friend, Sally. Delia casts wards up to help keep them away from Connor, who is too young to understand what's going on, though he's still terrified by it all.

Gabe and his partner Jack, who is Sally's husband, are both caught in the middle of this mayhem, surviving by sheer luck, though Jack is severely injured and Gabe left nursing a few broken ribs. As the dust settles and they look around, they see chaos incarnate. Death did not discriminate, taking young and old, male and female, policemen and dock workers. Many of the survivors swore they saw visions of monsters, banshees, even angels flying around during the encounter. Nothing about the day made sense, except the fact that most of the gunmen were aiming at a particular few people, killing an older couple and nearly adding a young woman who was with them to their tally. Sam Butler, reporter and friend of Gabe, rushes in and saves the young woman, Alina, who can't remember her past. From there, the story picks up steam.

The keys to understanding who Alina is and why she is so important are found in heinous, ritualist murders, missing people, demanding and guardian ghosts, Russian royalty and horrific memories locked away only to be slowly passed on to Delia in her dreams. Can Delia and Dora, a powerful spiritualist and her friend and mentor, protect everyone they love, help the police solve the murders and unmask then destroy an evil necromancer who hides in shadows, changes faces and stalks them all?

Reading this, you'd have no idea that it is an ending to a trilogy. It didn't feel like there was any finality to it, just an end to one paranormal adventure and a temporary pause to the series before the next one sweeps us off our feet.

I was extremely sad to read that this was a conclusion to the series and I believe there is still so much story for these characters to share. To say that I'll miss them is an understatement. I hold on to the hope that if Jamie Lee Moyer is ending this trilogy, that she moves on to one of the other main characters and begins to tell their tales in the same wonderful first person narrative. ~~ Dee Astell

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