Ida Linehan Young's work has always dealt with the realities of death. Her family, sadly, was marked by tragic death, which has been the subject of two books by the author, most recently last year's 'If I Cried I'd Fill the Ocean.' The award-winning Mary Ro series is, in many ways, about harkening back to a time in Newfoundland history when death was more commonplace, and fighting it. The characters are always challenging, overcoming, but surrounded by: death.
I feel like when we look back on Linehan-Young's work from a future date, when we apply auteur-theory to her work and look for unifying themes across it, 'the Newfoundland Death' will be a strong theme that runs through it all. How do we deal with it, how did we deal with it, and how does it reflect back upon us?
To that end, 'The Room Upstairs' is something of a distillation of Linehan-Young's work. Rather than dancing around the ideas of death like she does in Mary Ro, or dealing with death in a very factual way like she does in 'If I Cried I'd Fill the Ocean,' the author explores her ideas about death: what it means, where we go, and what chances we get before we take that final step into... the Room Upstairs.
The characters are brilliantly written and sharp, and there is mystery layered throughout. On a character-level, this is some of Linehan-Young's best writing. This book deals with big ideas and stretches what the author is capable of. She's been experimenting lately -- playing with different timelines in 'The Stolen Ones,' working in non-fiction in 'If I Cried I'd Fill the Ocean.' I'm very interested to see what she does next. Easily one of her best.
Amazing book. Easily one of the best released in 2023, calling it now. Great for fans of Dan Brown who wished he wrote dialog better, and adults who grew up on Judy Bloom and want more of that introspection in their fiction. Also great for fans of Paul Rowe's 'The Last Half of the Year,' Stephen King's 'Bag of Bones,' and Audrey Niffenegger's 'The Time Traveler's Wife.'