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Absent

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Loved it! 😍

Get ready to drink questionable beverages and let Jill transport you into a world of colors, where nothing is what it seems.

The premise of this book pulled me in from the start and, along with the minimalistic mysterious cover, told me I would enjoy reading this book. I’m happy to say my predictions were correct, but I’m no intuitive.


A color-blind executive, Carter, seeks counseling services from Tracee, a synesthete who sees words in colors. But this is not as straightforward as it seems. Tracee is also the head of the Green Light Foundation who has hired Carter’s company to conduct a consensus on the most positive and negative aspects of a synesthetes life to understand how her foundation could help them. 


When Carter agrees to help her foundation, and then to help himself to some sessions, is where it goes down hill, though it's enjoyably because the tension rises in the story. From their first meeting, I could tell Carter was attracted to Tracee, and this is no big deal, but when he goes to the one-on-one counseling sessions, I could tell that these two would eventually break that platonic chemistry. Spoiler alert: they do, but not in a way you might think.


The best part about the book is the journeys Carter takes when he’s in a trance. He assumes a unique identity and enjoys himself in a way he wouldn’t do in actual life. So as Carter is finding himself, the reader is being immersed in glamorous creative parties in Paris, in NYC before the depression and then during it, free love in the 60s, and then the gut-wrenching draft, all the way to a future devoid of color. The details in these scenes are exquisite, and I felt like I was in a trance right along with Carter.


But back to the story. Carter has a wife, Sarah – an intuitive that works with the FBI. She seems low key jealous of the time Carter spends with Tracee, so when it comes to tension, there’s a lot there as well. Especially as the more time Carter spends with Tracee, the more he keeps information from Sarah. Read it to figure out what he’s holding back. But let’s just say, Carter upset me several times throughout the pages.


This is the problem: after reading the story all the way towards the end, I figured I knew these characters. But perhaps I don’t because the ending left me confused due to Sarah’s reaction. When she high fives Tracee and called her ‘girlfriend’ after rescuing Carter, it left me scratching my head. I understand this is book three in the Sutherland Series, so perhaps I don’t know Sarah, but that reaction felt untrue to her character. 


Talking about the series. I didn’t need to read the two previous books to understand this one. There are traces of residual plot from the others, but it doesn’t hinder. Instead, it piqued my interest to read the other books in the series.


Back to the story. From the middle till the last act, each plot twist built upon the other, but the ending fell short with the action at the end. The scenes that dealt with Carter’s rescue were too compressed for me to enjoy. I felt a bit robbed of some action. After building tension with Rolf, Al, Carter and the other outliers, the conflict was resolved in just a few sentences. Also, a secret existed during the course of the novel. Had the reader been let in on the secret, Carter’s rescue wouldn’t have felt as flat. Knowing this secret would have put the reader at the edge of their seat to try to figure out how Carter would react to it and how it would unfold. Sometimes letting the reader in makes it more enjoyable to read. Nonetheless, the closure between Tracee and Carter met my expectations. It was mysterious and open-ended, kind of liked their relationship.


I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about synesthesia, and who enjoys literary fiction and time travel. 

Reviewed by

I am an MFA Creative Writing grad student and an avid reader who knows a thing or two about a good story. I enjoy characters that are as real as the humans I know. I'm a sucker of magic, and witchy things, but I will read it if it has a good blurb. A great cover will catch my eye every time.

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About the author

Jill C. Baker grew up in a small town in NY state and currently lives in MA with her husband. She holds a B.S. from Boston University's College of Communication. Her career in media marketing includes work for Hearst, Harte-Hanks and a digital publishing provider serving the magazine industry. view profile

Published on April 20, 2020

Published by Sudbury Publishing Group

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by