Out Of The Darkness is Katy Hogan’s debut novel. Inspired by the authors own experiences, it is a story about love, loss and life after death.
‘…she longed for her mother and the unconditional love that had always made her feel so safe.’
The novel is centred on Jessica Gibson, a nurse who we learn from the offset has recently lost her mother. Jessica shared a strong bond with her mother and her loss leaves her alone and in despair. However, as she struggles to come to terms with her loss, chance encounters provide new opportunities, new friendships and a whole new life for Jessica. Over the course of the story the reader observes as Jessica gradually emerges from the darkness of grief. It also explores the strength of bonds and the importance of friendships old and new. Jessica meets two remarkable women along the way and together they are all connected in some way. They have all experienced trauma and loss but through each other they may have what it takes to help each other heal, and to help each other find a new path in life.
‘…maybe, just maybe, her mother wasn’t so far away after all.’
One of the key themes explored within the story is the idea of life after death and whether or not loved ones can be contacted and communicated with after death. The characters in the novel experiment with clairvoyance and psychic mediums in an attempt to gain closure and find answers relating to their loved ones. Whilst I personally have never believed in such practices it was interesting to see how Hogan has used this to help represent grief and how such activities can bring comfort to those experiencing loss, the way it can give people hope that all is not lost. Jessica’s involvement with the psychic medium also unearths some surprising information, details which could not only have an immediate impact on her life, but change it forever.
‘And they whispered words of thanks for their new-found companionship and much-cherished sense of belonging.’
The psychic elements aside this is a beautiful, moving story of love and loss. It is an emotional read as we watch Jessica try to come to terms with her loss, and to carry on with her life. This is made even more difficult as Jessica works on a ward with elderly patients, dealing with illness and loss on a regular basis. I really felt for Jessica and was willing her on throughout the story. With this in mind it was brilliant to see how she formed friendships and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see a happy future for herself and for her new companions.
‘She was sure she no longer needed the body armour of denial, that cocoon of isolation…’
I enjoyed reading Out Of The Darkness. It is an impressive debut that deals with difficult, emotional subject matter well. It is also a story which includes themes that I had not previously read much about. This combined to create an emotional rollercoaster of a read, a tale filled with love, loss and hope.
Out Of The Darkness was published on 6th July 2015 by Illumine Publishing. Many thanks to Katy Hogan for providing a copy for review.