The Space in Between

The Space in Between

The Space in Between was written by Jen Minkman and first published in 2014. It is a paranormal romance novel which focuses on a young woman who falls in love with the literal man of her dreams. The Goodreads page seems to suggest that this novel is the first part of a series, yet I can’t find anything online other than this to say whether or not is the case. Either way, the novel stands on its own very well as a complete story in its own right.

Moira should be satisfied with her life. With her ADHD finally under control she has finally managed to focus on her part-time University course in art history. She also has Patrick, her boyfriend of seven years, who is always keen to take care of her. Yet there is still something missing in her life – an emptiness that she can’t put her finger on – and its leading her to feel uncreative.

Everything changes when she helps her twin siblings, Tabby and Dai, to perform a Wiccan ritual at a local stone circle. During the ceremony, the three of them are transported to a parallel world which resembles on of Moira’s paintings and manage to free a young man that they find trapped there.

Although Moira brushes this experience off as some kind of shared hallucination, in her dreams she keeps returning to the man and learns his name – Hayko. Gradually, Moira starts to wonder if he is some kind of wandering spirit and if it is her moral duty to help him pass over to the other side. Yet the more she spends time with Hayko, the stronger her feelings grow. How can she fall in love with someone who is already dead?

First of all, I feel I should note that The Space in Between isn’t strictly speaking a young adult novel. The characters are all in their early to mid-twenties and so I think it’s probably more accurate to consider this story new adult fiction. However, this doesn’t feel quite right either. Despite the older cast, it still feels a lot like a young adult romance. There is a little alcohol and drug use but the few sex scenes are not graphic in any way. I would certainly consider the story to be suitable for anyone aged 14 and up.

The Space in Between is a rather unique novel and is certainly very different to the other paranormal romances that I have reviewed on this blog. Firstly, the themes behind the story is like nothing I’ve ever read. The supernatural elements of the story take inspiration from the Order of the Peacock Angel – a particularly obscure religious sect that I’d never heard of before – and the amount of detail that the author goes into regarding this is quite staggering. It is clear that Minkman is a very intelligent person and has put a great deal of research into her novel as she is able to eloquently talk about the practices of these people and compare them to a number of better known religions.

The sections of the novel which focused on Moira and Hayko travelling in the dream world were rather spaced out in the story, yet were incredibly imaginative. They are often hauntingly beautiful, comprised from a mixture of Moira’s artwork, Hayko’s religion and various places that are significant in Moira’s life. In this way, it provides spiritual healing for them both as it enables them to confront the things that are troubling them in the real world.

At least, that’s what I took away from the story. Minkman never spoon-feeds the reader, leaving a lot open to interpretation. The true nature of the dream world and how Hayko came to be trapped there is left rather ambiguous and so much is left up to the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. While this may not be to every reader’s taste, I personally thought it worked well in this case. It blurred the edges of Moira’s experiences, adding to the novel’s ethereal tone.

However, I found that I was far less fond of the sections set in the real world. The transition between dreaming and reality was very clumsy, often occurring very suddenly. The parts that focused on Moira’s everyday life were far longer and could get rather repetitive. The core aspects of Moira’s life were her courses at University, her part-time job at a hotel, just hanging out with Patrick and her friends and how she struggled with her ADHD. A lot of these little details seemed irrelevant and could really have been trimmed to help streamline the novel. For example, the few scenes where Moira sang with her brother’s band and the very weird moment where she is propositioned by a lecturer were both unnecessary in the greater scheme of things as they added nothing to the story.

I also had some small issues with the way that the novel was written. This is a bit of a personal issue (as you may remember, I hate it when authors write in a dialect) but I found the use of Welsh in the story to be quite distracting. Part of this was the structure of dialogue (such as ending sentences with “innit” and liberal usage of the word “well”), but more so it was the actual use of Welsh words in mid-sentence. The author never explained what any of these words meant and so I found them to be confusing. If the characters were speaking Welsh to each other all the time, why would only certain words appear in the native language? If they were speaking English, why would they pepper their conversations with random Welsh words? It just didn’t make sense to me.

There were also some very noticeable errors in the prose of the novel which made me think that it could have done with another good edit in all. For me, the most distracting was the odd occasion when the author called Moira’s brother “Sai” instead of “Dai”. Spelling a character’s name wrong is a rather glaring mistake that should have been easily spotted while the story was in editing.

Unfortunately, it was the characters in this novel that gave me the hardest time. This doesn’t apply to all of them. Moira’s circle of close confidants – Dai, Tabby and Holly – were all incredibly sweet and supportive to her. My only real disappointment was that Tabby’s potential girlfriend never actually appeared in the story which was a shame as I wanted to know if they did wind up together.

Hayko was also a very likable and unique romantic lead. It’s rare to find a paranormal romance novel where neither of the main characters is a supernatural entity yet, in this story, both Moira and Hayko were perfectly human and the fantastical aspect was purely the circumstances of their meaning. This was a rather refreshing take on the genre and prevented the story from running fowl of many of the typical clichés.

So, why is it that I say that the characters gave me a hard time? Well, the answer lies in the relationship between two characters – Moira and Patrick.

Patrick (or F**kwit as he has become known in my household) was utterly loathsome from his very first appearance. He’s one of those men who believes himself to be almighty – the hunter/gather who needs to control Moira’s whole life because, naturally, she’s completely incapable of making any decisions for herself. The controlling git had one end goal in his life – married with kids – and was intent on emotionally blackmailing Moira into conforming to this ideal. My problem is, Moira totally went along with that.

While Moira does fortuitously see the light in the novel’s final act, up until then she is just at Patrick’s beck and call. For some reason, she has stuck loyally by the douchebag for seven years. She’s on heavy medication because Patrick won’t let her try holistic treatments. She’s given up her full time degree because Patrick commanded it. She even allows Patrick to have unprotected sex with her against her will because her Lord and Master informs her that’s what girlfriends are supposed to do. I know this sounds terrible but I like my heroines to be strong willed. I just struggle to empathise with a character who allows herself to be the victim, particularly when she has a choice in the matter. Moira isn’t alone. She lives with a family of people who totally have her back. So why does she need to cling to the F**ckwit? Who the Hell knows.

Well, I think I’ve rambled for long enough. The Space in Between is has a very original concept and contains some memorable scenes but unfortunately was also bogged down by some very lengthy and repetitive sequences set in the real world. It also contained a cast who were very varied when it came to likability. I wasn’t too enamored with this story overall but would recommend it to a fan of the genre as I feel that they’re likely to get more enjoyment from it than I did.

The Space in Between can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Girl in Between | Arkham Reviews

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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