For those who attend college, freshman year is perhaps the strangest, most trying period of their time there. Away from home for an extended period of time, with ready access to drugs, alcohol, and the opposite sex, exposed to all sorts of new and interesting things, it’s the perfect time for young adults to go a little crazy. But in Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s new book, two roommates are about to find out just how weird college can really be.
Kim Calloway is an artist whose ability to capture moods and feelings through color borders on the supernatural. However, ever since her best friend betrayed her, she’s been too depressed to work, almost to the point of suicide. Meanwhile, Jaimie Locke comes from a family where magic is a way of life, and the mundane world is full of uncertainty and strangeness. Can two roomies, one coping with a crippling emotional burden, the other representing the ultimate in insular ethnic groups, learn to get along?
It doesn’t take Jaimie long at all to figure out that what’s bugging Kim is of supernatural origin, though. Determined to help her new friend, Jaimie enlists the aid of her cousins, as well as that of her “household god” to track down the emotional vampire which has been preying on Kim for months. Now this unusual collection of erstwhile friends and allies have to survive college and the things which go bump in the night. Talk about new experiences all around!
Hoffman perfectly captures that mixed cocktail of bewilderment, excitement, alienation, experimentation, culture shock and endless possibilities which almost every college student experiences as they learn to adjust to their new setting. From Jaimie learning how to cope with her mundane surroundings, to Kim dealing with her emotions and learning to trust other people again, to Jaimie’s cousins taking responsibility for the dangers they face, it’s all about growing up through adversity. And as always, Hoffman’s ability to weave strands of the fantastic into a real world setting is top-notch. I absolutely loved Spirits That Walk In Shadow, and I hope she’ll return to these characters again soon.
Originally posted on SF Site, 2006