Jason Mott provides a different way to look at the idea of life after death in his new novel The Returned, a paranormal story that questions just how we would react if our dead loved ones started returning from the grave.
In 1966, a tragic drowning accident at their son Jacob’s eighth birthday party left Harold and Lucille Hargrave childless. But time has allowed the couple to settle into old age peacefully, slowly mending the hole left from their child’s death. That is until Jacob appears on their doorstep decades later healthy, happy, and still only eight years old.
Mott presents one way that the world might react if loved ones started returning from beyond, and it’s not a pleasant view. Small towns become concentration camps rife with deception, people turn on one another in the blink of an eye and there’s not a single person who isn’t hiding some sort of secret. It’s the worst of humanity laid out on a silver platter for readers to feast on.
When I first finished the novel, I was slightly disappointed. The world that Mott created seemed confusing and disjointed, never really allowing me to get a full picture of just what was going on. The only truly likeable character was Jacob, who still held an 8-year-old’s innocence despite being something completely alien. Not to mention the fact that there’s absolutely no discussion as to why the deceased are suddenly not so dead and gone.
But after I let The Returned sink in for a few days, I realized that the mystery and the characters and the confusion are what make Mott’s novel so beautiful. It’s remarkable human, in a way that most adult paranormal books can never attain. The story doesn’t give answers or explanations, but demonstrates the second chances at life that we all wish we could have like rekindling love’s first flame or letting go of life’s greatest regrets.
It’s truly amazing how a tale filled with impossible situations and fictional people can make us look inside our own selves, melding their insecurities with our own very real questions and doubts that forever plague our mind’s eye. Mott, whether intentionally or otherwise, has written an outlet that encourages every reader to answer those questions for themselves and find a peace that we all deserve.
Harlequin will release The Returned on Aug. 27, and a limited TV series based off of the book, titled Resurrection, will premiere during the 2013-2014 mid-season on ABC.