Book Reviews

One Boy's Shadow by Ross A. McCoubrey

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts/Spirits/Hauntings / Young Adult / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 20-March-2013

Book Blurb

Fifteen-year-old Caleb Mackenzie doesn't put up a fight when his father announces the family is moving to Stapeton, Nova Scotia. In fact, Caleb looks forward to a fresh start in the scenic little area. Their new home, Wakefield House, sports large rooms, a big barn where Caleb can work on cars, and acres of forested land for privacy. But it also has a troubling past. In 1943, a boy who lived in the home vanished.

Caleb hears the stories about what may have occurred so many years ago, but he passes them off as folklore until one day he's alone in the woods and hears the faintest whisper. Did someone in the distance just call his name? And what about his discovery in the hayloft? Could there be something to those old stories after all?

The initial need to dismiss everything as coincidence becomes a soul-searching journey into the past where Caleb is determined to uncover the truth about what really happened to the missing boy. And in the process, he learns even more about himself and what's really important.

Book Review

What happens when we die? It's a question which has been asked since antiquity, but the answer still eludes us. It seems that everyone has a different idea of what awaits us on the other side of the veil. In 'One Boy's Shadow' by Ross McCoubrey, Caleb, his brother, boyfriend, and another good friend, are drawn into thinking about life after death. The spirit of Toby, a boy who died over 60 years ago in Caleb's house, begins to communicate with him, leaving clues which become clearer, more meaningful as he and Toby's energies become more attuned to each other. Compelled by the evidence Caleb receives, he and his friends set out on a mission to set things right for Toby so his spirit will have closure and move on from the nebulous space and time he's in at present.

Caleb is an amazing young man. He's extremely sensitive and compassionate. He's as confused as any fifteen-year-old and has many of the same doubts and insecurities, especially when it comes to discovering he's gay, but Caleb is incredibly wise at the same time. He goes out of his way to keep from hurting others, and measures his actions and decisions with intricate care, taking everyone's feelings into consideration. The biggest thing Caleb has going for him is his close family. More than most children, particularly if they are gay, he knows he's loved. Blake is the best big brother anyone could have, supporting him in every way, making time for him, and believing in him.

Shane, first Caleb's best friend, then boyfriend is also an amazing young man. He's had a lot to overcome in his young life, especially his father's death, but he has an unusual, loving mother who supports him completely when he comes out as gay. She already supported his art work and welcomes Caleb with open arms, delighted that they have each other to love. Shane and Caleb are an amazing match, so alike in spirit, so empathetic, and supportive of each other. For fear of sounding corny, they are absolutely perfect for each other—loving trusting, and supportive, good to each other and for each other to a fault. Their angsty, but loving relationship is such a great model for how things can be with the right circumstances and personalities involved. Their relationship made each of them a better, stronger person and had a similar effect on those around them, even the tough guy bully of the school.

It's a bit unusual to consider a spirit as such a strong character, but Toby definitely is a driving force in the story. Toby has been waiting for someone he could reach out to, someone he could trust to believe and want to help, and Caleb fit that role to a tee. In repayment for that trust and the assistance he needed, Toby gives back to each of the boys in ways only he is capable of doing because of his current state. Toby can go back and forth from past to present and present to past whenever he needs to leave impressions and physical evidence or clues to where the physical evidence was in the present time. It is his bond with Caleb which touched me the deepest, knowing the effect the boys have on each other, realizing that if they'd lived in the same time, they would have been great friends. Through Caleb and his relationship with his boyfriend Shane, he is able to show Toby how things are now for gay boys as compared to how they were in Toby's time which seems to lighten Toby's burden considerably.

For a first novel, Ross has created a marvelous story; embedded in his haunting mystery are important messages of coming out, compassion, generosity, and eternal love. They bleed through loud and clear along with the suspense, angst, and intrigue. It's actually difficult to put into words how impressive this story is. I guess the best thing I can do is recommend it for everyone to read it, especially if you like delightful, hauntingly beautiful love stories, with boldly realistic characters who will definitely pull on your heartstrings, win you over instantly, and will stay in your heart and mind for a long time. Thanks, Ross, for sharing your brilliant story with me. I look forward to reading more of your work.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 434 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 24-May-2012
Price $3.99 ebook, $23.95 paperback
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