With “Melding Spirits”, Michael Burge crafts a poignant coming-of-age story laced with suspense and grit. Crossing genres, this story is sure to appeal to a wide audience. The characters are an eclectic mix who work well together. Evan Mason, the twelve-year-old protagonist, is on the cusp of teenagerhood, that magical age in which innocence and naiveté still reign, and this is captured in his interactions with his friends and especially with his relationship with Katie Dobbins, his first love. Both are mature for their age, which is refreshing. The neighborhood is comprised of quirky, unique individuals who augment the plot and add humor as well as creative tension. There is a timeless quality to the narrative, and although the setting is 1958 in Laurenville, Illinois, it could be anyone’s hometown, which further immerses the reader in the experience.
Don’t let the seeming tranquility lull you into complacency, however. As quaint as this story is, there is just enough roughness around the edges to add grit, a discreet thread of mystery that develops slowly and then suddenly rises to a crescendo. Most authors would present both the light and dark elements together or at least simultaneously from the start, and in breaking from this tradition, Burge keeps the reader guessing and achieves an exhilarating climax toward the end of the novel. Aside from some profanity, this is a relatively clean read, with no graphic details or bedroom scenes, and I recommend it as a fantastic summer read.
Many thanks to the author for providing both a signed paperback and a Kindle edition of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.