Review by Aeryn
May 2013 by Spencer Rhys Hughes
Amazon + Good Reads
"Nicole's life is falling apart. She's taking double her usual dosage of anxiety meds, on the verge of losing her job, panic-stricken and isolated in the largest city in the United States...and all of that was before she saw the Woman get hit by the L Train going through Union Square. Now she's been pulled into a world of shadows and secrets, trapped in a lower east side brownstone with a washed out shock-rocker and his group of bizarre supernatural conspiracy theorists, stalked by someone lurking in the darkness waiting for the opportune moment to drag her underground... As her life shatters around her, Nicole struggles to reassemble the fragments. A confrontation with the concepts of vanity, dependence, media, and culture; No Reflection is a story about the horrors of our contemporary world and the sanctuaries we can find within it."
Spencer Rhys Hughes' debut novel, No Reflection, is the dark and gritty, albeit somewhat introductory, tale of an aspiring fashion designer living in New York City. Nicole's ordinary morning commute turns away from the mundane when a woman gets hit by a train right in front of Nicole's eyes. But this wasn't any accident - there was something wrong with the woman on the tracks, something...otherworldly? Nicole, not quite sure what she saw, tries to pass off the vision as a panic attack/slight mental breakdown. But when Nicole begins to feel like she is being followed, she can't help but get sucked into an underground world she never knew - or dreamed - existed.
All in all, I liked this book. The storyline for me was a little bit odd, but not in a bad way. My main complaint is that the paranormal aspect felt a little tagged on. It wasn't really necessary in the context of this book; I would have just as easily believed that the killer was a messed up human with a very messed up hobby. I do think, however, that this book is set up for a more paranormal immersed second book. If the intention was to ease the reader into out-of-the-norm ideas, just as the ideas are introduced to Nicole, I'm okay with it. If not, well...it could have been handled better.
The characters were generally likeable, though awkward at times. They all seemed to be their own people, which sounds like a strange compliment but really is meant as one. I'm interested to see how the relationships grow throughout the course of the series, to see if the characters become less of a smattering of islands and more connected as the adventure unfolds.
The was definitely a different sort of read for me because, while I read a lot of paranormal literature, this was one of the few books that truly focused (like a laser beam...) on the grotesque nature of all things evil. There was blood, guts, dirt, and whatever else one might find in the tunnels beneath NYC. It was explained in such fine detail that I could feel the filth under my nails and found myself choking at the smell. As someone who has never really lived in a city (and would have no idea of these intricacies), I really appreciate Hughes' ability to put me in the space.
No Reflections is full of fun "Easter eggs," fantastic imagery, and a film-noir type plot. It's a quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in sci-fi, paranormal, and horror, but a strong stomach is a must!
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