Shelly’s Second Chance, by Hope Chandler and L.B. Swan, is the first in a series with an interesting premise: The Wish Granters books follow two recently dead individuals, Joe and Alanna, who find themselves stuck in a place called Transition. Transition is some kind of in-between place that’s neither heaven nor hell. In order to move past Transition, they have to do several things, including returning to earth to help different women receive their wishes. The process of helping others, it seems, will also help them. They don’t remember much about their lives back on earth, and they have to figure out their pasts in order to fix their own mistakes. They have a guide to help them through this process, “Morgan,” but his instructions are deliberately vague.
Although there are some neat touches, like the question of what people drink in Transition or an ongoing debate about whether Alanna and Joe could return to earth and live again, ultimately, I regret to say, I found it difficult to remain invested in the story. Part of my difficulty stemmed from finding typographical errors (for example, a conversation that loses track of which character is speaking when), which can be pretty distracting.
I also found it difficult to remain invested in Shelly, the human being Alanna and Joe are helping. Shelly has a gambling problem and a tortured relationship with her fiancé Ben; she keeps lying to the second because of the first. Joe and Alanna show up and try to help her, which involves taking her to Vegas and witnessing a health scare (mild spoilers only). Yet, there’s no mystery about Shelly (as there is about Joe and Alanna) and it’s hard, especially at the beginning of the book, to see what she likes so much about Ben. It’s more interesting to consider Joe and Alanna’s backstories, which are slowly being fleshed out, but never at the expense of Shelly’s own story. We have to wait for the next book in the series to find out more about these two main characters.
Rachel, who has a Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer/editor and a voracious reader. You can talk to her about books at http://twitter.com/writehandmann.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by the authors. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.