Review – A Touch Morbid
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  • Posted:
  • August 5, 2011

Earlier this year A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford wormed its way into my brain, and my heart, securing its place as one of my favourite books of the year. Desperate for more I waited impatiently until an ARC showed up for me last week. I just finished it, and, may I just say, it’s perfect. Beautiful and perfect, and haunting.

This series, as it is, is one of my favourite things this year. Wow.  

It’s very hard to talk about what happens in book two as much of what does happens is spoilers. Let’s just say this – the usual suspects are all in chaos. Eden and Az are circling each other like orbiting stars, unable to kiss but trapped helplessly in each other’s gravity. Eden also has developed a mysterious illness that she is trying to keep hidden from Az. Meanwhile, Gabe is struggling with his new found Fallen status and Kristen is losing herself to her schizophrenia without him. And, above all, there is the Bound and they are searching for the Siders.

These books are so beautifully drawn, so pristinely plotted. I don’t think people fully appreciate what Clifford has done with these books. I’m not sure if Clifford herself is quite aware, but there is a lasting, non-derivative quality about them; an irresistible abrasiveness. I have spoken about this with friends and readers in the book community and I will say it in a nanosecond – Clifford has truly written something that will not only impact but will stand out from this entire genre. It’s original, it’s dauntingly sad, it’s unsettling. And gorgeous. A friend of mine said recently that she felt Clifford was the J.D. Salinger of the YA field, someone who will stand out years down the road. I’m going for something more Gothic, crossed with a Humanist twist…Thomas Hardy. The books are nothing at all like each other, but the characters…the characters all experience such profound life changing sadness that evokes the human condition in ways that remind me of Hardy. Totally different genre, same Humanistic feel. Read the scene in Tess of the D’Urbervilles where Tess has to bury Sorrow and you’ll begin to grasp my comparison.

Besides that, there’s an overt preternatural unease to Clifford’s books, a creepiness and restiveness that seeps in and troubles the spirit. Like horror movies with small starey children, or random inexplicable sounds in the night. It’s the kind of book that unnerves you and you cannot pinpoint why. There’s something alluringly unsettling about these books. The only YA author I can begin to compare them to is Francesca Lia Block, and that’s about as close as comparing them to Thomas Hardy. At least Block’s books have supernatural elements to them.

I seriously cannot wait until book three comes out. Any thoughts or guess to the title? A Touch Mor-something. Mortifying? Morose? Mordant? We could play the word game all day.

A Touch Morbid nets a solid 5 out of 5 from this excited fangrrl. And I will reread both of them when book three comes out.

– BP

*A Touch Morbid releases February 28, 2012.

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P.S. I think if you are looking to match the feel I got when I read this book you need to listen to this song…over and over again…not necessarily the lyrics but, you know, the feel of the book… I think that it suggests the feel of these books, particularly this book, very nicely.

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