When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.
From the title and cover, I kind of thought this book would be more creepy horror than it was. I wouldn't actually call it horror at all. It's about ghosts, but from the point of view of the main character being a ghost herself and integrating into society without most being being any the wiser. It also contains the investigation of weird shenanigans and some heroics, as most fantasy books do. It also deals quite a bit with suicide, which is how the protagonist's sister died, suicide prevention, and what it means to die when it's "your time" or not (the latter through a fantastical lens).
The opening hit me hard and the rest of the novella kept me eagerly turning pages through my jetlag. Jenna is a compelling first person narrator, taking us through her day-to-night life, her perceptions of New York — including the New York only people like her can see — and some of the realities of being a ghost. I greatly enjoyed the alternate vision of New York McGuire painted in this book, as well as her vision of ghost life.
I really enjoyed Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day and highly recommend it to fans of ghosts, othered or liminal cities, novellas and Seanan McGuire. I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway (although I will note I didn't like Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day quite as much as the other novella). This novella also sold me on the soft goal of trying to make my way through McGuire's back catalogue, so expect to see more of her books on this blog in the future.
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: January 2016, Tor.com novella series
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley