Review: Life Minus Me by Sara Codair

I’ve been really enjoying some more diverse fiction, especially books with non-binary and trans characters – these are books which reflect much more of the world around me and the people I know! Among these beautifully written and fresh books are Alison Evans’ Euphoria Kids and Highway Bodies; Amanda Jette Knox’s Love Lives Here; and works by Mary Borsellino and Tom Cho.

This week I read Life Minus Me by Sara Codair, which features humans (including two people using ‘they/their’ pronouns, human-hybrids, some dogs with heaps of personality, and some folks with difficult mental health issues.

The novella begins appropriately with a warning about depictions of suicide, suicidal ideation and related issues. If these are triggering topics for you, do be mindful before starting this book.

Life Minus Me is a prequel in Sara Cordair’s Evanstar universe, which I haven’t read. This makes the somewhat complex backstory a bit tangled from time to time, and exposition a little heavy, but once that slight clunkiness is out of the way, you can get into the story.

We open with Mel, who is part human, part angel, part elf; she’s also a healer and a medical student. Her cousin Erin remains not thrilled with Mel, due to Mel’s intervention in saving their life after a suicide attempt. Erin also has paranormal gifts, about which they are unaware, and so their prophetic dreams about the death of Baily, part owner of the Barks and Bits pet store.

Baily is another person struggling with daily life and suicidal thoughts. When their uncle has a stroke, Baily’s barely-coping coping mechanisms break down. Mel, who can read thoughts, decides if she can’t help Erin, she might be able to help Baily. At the same time, Mel is clearly neglecting her own health in her drive to help others.

It’s a fairly dark world into which the reader steps, full of people finding life difficult to manage. It is, however, also a hopeful world, where solutions aren’t simple or easily gained, but there’s light on the path.

The characters read sympathetically,and of course the presence of Baily’s and Erin’s dogs perhaps embody that best.

Mel’s family business of being demon hunters is a background note which later and a bit suddenly becomes more foreground – I’d just about forgotten an earlier reference to it. That story element will clearly be more of a motif in the rest of the series.

Life Minus Me is dark at times, but it doesn’t wallow in the darkness. It’s a bit densely packed with backstory for a novella, but it certainly offers a solid foundation for the novels of the series: where I hope we might see more of Baily and their dog, of Erin and their secret abilities, and Mel getting a better grip on life.

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