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Ghosts Through the Cracks

(22 customer reviews)


She didn’t know she was walking the line between the world of the living and that of the spirits – or how dangerous that could be. 


Shipped to America as a mail-order wife, Su Xie finds herself in a world of money, fun, and all the excitement that Prohibition-era America could offer. All her lover asks in return is her loyalty—a price that Su Xie is happy to pay. 

But one night, in a speakeasy, she meets a stranger who can pull the veil apart and let her into the spirit world where everything appears as it is.

What is Su Xie really paying her life with? Who has built those golden bars around her? Will she be able to break them?


“My intention was to flick through it to make sure it was appropriate to my blog, then head to bed – which I estimated I’d do some 10 minutes later.  Instead, I kept turning the pages, not turning in until after midnight…”
Nicholas C. Rossis

Additional information

First Published

4 March 2016

Approximate page number


Available formats

epub, .mobi (for kindle), PDF

SKU: 001 Category: Tags: , Product ID: 848



In the spirit world, desire is magic and nothing is more powerful than freedom.


Chicago 1924

Su Xie (Susie) arrives in America as a mail-order bride at the height of the Jazz Age, and there, she unexpectedly finds freedom. Her would-be-husband dead, she follows Simon to Chicago and his speakeasy. 

Simon lets her do whatever she wants, whether that’s owning beautiful things, dolling herself up, being the queen of the dancefloor, even dancing with strangers. All he asks in return is loyalty, and Susie thinks that’s a small price to pay.

Then, one night, she meets Blood.
What is it that is different about dancing with this stranger?
Why does Simon threaten her? Why he’s prepared to destroy his rival to have her?

Back in China, Su Xie knew spirits could walk side by side with men. She thoughts this wasn’t true in America, but Blood is reaping the vail for her. And through that vail, Susie can finally see the real price she’s paying to Simeon.  


Ghosts Through the Cracks is a historical fantasy story of gangsters and smokey speakeasies. Of supernatural beings and a bit of romance. But it’s, above all, a story of self-discovery and self-esteem.


It’s the true heart of Dieselpunk, as well as of all the punk genres, to me. Using the past as a filter to look at our own time, our own society, our own fears and hopes.
Sarah Zama on what is dieselpunk


Average rating
22 reviews
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22 reviews for Ghosts Through the Cracks

  1. Sara (verified owner)

    Actual Rating: 3.75 out of 4

    Give In To The Feeling blends the allure of paranormal romance with the sensual, rebellious tone of the Prohibition era. Susie, a Chinese mail-order bride, has been satisfied with her new life in Chicago, working as the lead dancer in her lover Simon’s speakeasy. Then, one night, two strangers arrive – and one of them, Blood, dances with Susie. While Susie feels torn between her attraction to Blood and her loyalty to Simon, she can’t deny what she realizes Blood can offer: A relationship that allows her to express herself freely and make her own life choices. Yet it’s not that simple with Simon. And over several nights, Susie learns that choosing between duty and desire could mean disrupting the spirit world – and courting the fury of a demon she had only heard of in children’s stories.

    I tend to skip paranormal romance, but Give In To The Feeling was a spellbinding exception. The presence of spirits and demons instead of other, overused species gives the story an ethereal, horror-tinged tone. Combined with the fun and seductive “Roaring Twenties” setting, this unique fantasy engages the senses and cues the jazz band in your head. And despite the story’s briefness (approx. 18,000 words), there’s enough time to connect with Susie so you can experience her emotions with her, especially her mounting fear toward the end. I would have liked to have learned more about Blood and his sidekick Michael, though. They seem to have their own otherworldly nature, but it’s never really explained. The writing could have been tightened in spots, too, but that might have been addressed for the final version. All in all, Give In To The Feeling thrilled and captivated me, and I’m eager to see what else Sarah Zama has in store for readers.

    NOTE: This will be released as an e-book on March 4, 2016. I received an advance copy from the author, and this has in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

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  2. Celine Jeanjean (verified owner)

    Give Into the Feeling is an unusual mix of romance, supernatural, and the Roaring Twenties. I loved how different this book was from what I’ve read of late. Set in a speakeasy (a fabulous setting if ever there was one), featuring both American Indian and Chinese characters, as well as a supernatural element, it makes for a really interesting, and different read.

    I very much enjoyed following Susie’s struggles as she found herself torn between Simon (the man to whom she owes loyalty) and Blood (the mysterious stranger she dances with at night in the speakeasy). It’s a love story, a story of demons and spirits, and a story of a woman wanting her freedom in 1920s Chicago. And all in all it’s a very enjoyable book!

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  3. Terry Tyler (verified owner)

    Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

    This is an interesting and unusual novella, set in 1920s Chicago, mostly within a speakeasy. Susie (really Su Xie) is a Chinese girl who has been sent to America by her parents (all is explained) and ends up living with ‘Simon’, the owner of the speakeasy and a gangster (this is implied, rather than stated). She dances for him and his customers each night; she belongs to him. Then one night she dances with the mysterious Blood, and knows that he is the person she must be with.

    The atmosphere is well set, the emotions most convincing, and I liked the rather offbeat way in which it’s written. I noticed that the author is Italian; sometimes the English is not quite right, with strange word choices or slightly incorrect ways of expressing things, but, oddly, it works well with the style of the story and subject matter. I think it actually adds to it, peculiar though that may sound. The story has a strong supernatural element, as not everyone in it is one hundred per cent human.

    After about half way through I began to find it a tiny bit repetitive where the feelings of the characters were concerned, and I think I preferred the earlier parts where the supernatural side was hinted at, rather than made obvious. But I enjoyed reading it, and there’s an interesting addition in the back: a chapter from the first person point of view of Susie, about how she felt when she was forced to leave China. There is also some information about speakeasies.

    I think lovers of the supernatural would like it very much.

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  4. Christoph Fischer (verified owner)

    I was attracted to this story because of its setting in the 1920s Chicago and the aspect of the immigrant experience, especially within a speakeasy. Those parts work really well and I felt the author delivered a great deal here.
    A Chinese girl is practically owned by a criminal but begins to have feelings for someone else.
    We learn about her life in China and in the US and witness her dilemma. The tension over her feelings is well portrayed and overall, Susie is a great main character.
    The supernatural part adds a new dimension to it and has its justification within the story, but I enjoyed the other aspects more.
    It is an entertaining read that will please fans of the fantasy and paranormal genre for sure and should also find a positive reception amongst lovers of unusual historical fiction.

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  5. Lauralee (verified owner)

    Susie is content with her life as a lead dancer in a speakeasy. She has a boyfriend that gives her everything that she wants. Yet, she feels that she is not completely happy. When a man named Blood walks into the speakeasy, she feels an attraction and for the first time desires to live her own life. The more she spends time with Blood, the more she realizes that her boyfriend is not what he seems to be. Can Susie find her own happiness or must she be bound to the speakeasy?

    I really thought that Susie is a tough heroine. She is a woman who is determined to live comfortably. She is a very loyal and dutiful person. However, when she meets Blood, she realizes that there is more to life than just to live comfortably. She she soon begins to question her life, desires, and happiness. She begins to see her boyfriend clearly. Susie realizes that if she wants to be happy, she must make hard choices and to fight for her own survival. Thus, I really like Susie because she is not a damsel-in-distress. Instead, she takes care of herself. Therefore, readers will be enthralled by Susie and root for her as she finds her self-confidence.

    Overall, this novella is about choices, love, and survival. It is about a woman’s quest to find her own happiness. The message of this book is to be believe in yourself. I really like the setting of the speakeasy. It is a glittering facade of a dismal prison. I thought the gloomy, eerie, and atmospheric tone was perfect for the story. This story had me spellbound from the first page and it reads like a titillating thriller. The only thing I did not like about the story was the romance. I felt the characters needed to be more-developed because I did not fully comprehend why Susie was so attracted to Blood that she wanted to give up her way of life just to be with him. Still, this story is a breathtaking story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you reach its climactic end. I recommend this story for fans of fierce heroines, paranormal love triangles, and the glamour of the 1920s.
    (Note: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

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  6. Ola Adamska (verified owner)

    This novella is really unsual – Chicago during 20s. So rare!
    It takes place mostly in some kind of club. The atmosphre for me was like from some kind of paranormal book and i liked it (somewhere in the middle but not on the top).
    The story goes around Chainise girl named Susie (in english). Her story looks like a paper marrige from that time (like in Lisa See Books) so background was made good and accurate for the time of the story ;)
    It’s a short and easy read book

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  7. Sara Snider (verified owner)

    This was my first venture into the dieselpunk genre, and I have to say it was very enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the speakeasy setting. Super cool! The characters are interesting and likeable. Especially Susie; she was strong yet vulnerable, courageous in face of her fear. I liked her a lot.

    I would have liked to know a bit more about the characters, though. There’s a bonus section at the end with some back story about Susie, and that’s great. But I’d like to know more about Blood and Michael as they seem quite interesting. Hopefully we’ll get to see them again in a future story. But this novella was a nice, quick read that explored the boundaries between loyalty and love in a satisfying way. If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, it’s worth giving it a go.

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  8. Yecheilyah Ysrayl (verified owner)

    *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

    My first time reading dieselpunk, Give into the Feeling is a Paranormal Romance, dieselpunk novella. We start off meeting Susie, a Chinese American who moved to the United States and is a dancer at a Chicago Speakeasy in the 1920s. When Blood and his brother Michael enter the place and that peculiar feather-brushing sensation overwhelms her, Susie stares toward the black man entering with the long black curly hair passed his shoulders. Except, Susie is already with Simon, the man with the dark lurking shadow following him.

    Simon is with Susie and no one is going to take her away from him. After all, he’d given her beautiful things, nice dresses, and an exciting nightlife. Still, Simon couldn’t make her body or her mind feel as comfortable as it did when she was with this stranger. And was it any coincidence she was attracted to the man whose name was the color of the dress she wore that night? Was it any coincidence that blood couldn’t take his eyes off the woman in red?

    I must say this was well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed the symbolism, the description of the speakeasy, and the attention to detail especially when it came to how Susie was feeling. The emotional intensity and tension between her and Blood was hot.

    I enjoyed reading about Susie’s internal struggle between Blood and Simon. How she struggled to deny herself the crush she had on blood for the sake of Simon. It was authentic the way she brushed off her feelings for Blood and tried to convince herself she wasn’t attracted to him. This went along well with the hint of something more sinister taking place at the same time; Simon’s jealousy contrasted against who he truly is.

    Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
    Entertainment Factor: 4/5
    Characterization: 5/5
    Authenticity / Believable: 4/5
    Thought Provoking: 5/5
    Overall Rating: 4 / 5

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  9. Lisa Wolf (verified owner)

    This supernatural tale is set in 1920s Chicago, with a Chinese flapper at a speakeasy as its main character. Susie is exciting, beautiful, exotic — and kept in luxury by her savior and patron, the club’s owner Simon. But when an alluring stranger enters the club one night, Susie’s world is changed — and the mysteries of the powers surrounding her lead to an otherworldly confrontation.

    Excellent depiction of the era and the jazz age feel, plus a compelling main character and dramatic conflict. Check it out!

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  10. Grace (verified owner)

    An enjoyable story. Without giving any spoilers, I would consider this to be more historical paranormal than dieselpunk, as I’ve seen it promoted. Either way, the author paints a vivid picture of the time and place, as well as the characters.

    Occasionally the wording felt a bit awkward, as the author is not a native English-speaker. However, it kind of fit with the story, since the main character is not a native English-speaker, either. A few times I got a little lost as to the passage of time during a scene or between scenes, but it was not enough to pull me out of the story.

    The tension, the characters, and the building mystery kept my attention well and had me guessing about the outcome till the very end.

    I recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a paranormal twist!

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  11. Melinda Kelly (verified owner)

    This is the type of story that will have you wanting to reread it just to see if you missed any of the clues! It is a quick read and will keep you turning the pages long after you should be asleep. The reader becomes hooked into the welfare of Susie and then Blood, caring about them as if they were long lost friends. This is no ordinary romance though and the ending is what will make you turn back to the first page to start again. A great debut work.

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  12. Whispering Stories (verified owner)

    Give in to the Feeling, is a short novella, set in 1920s Chicago, mainly within a Speakeasy club.

    Susie, or Sue Xie, her real name, is a Chinese immigrant who came over to the USA to be with her husband. Unfortunately, he died before she had completed her long journey.

    His associate, Simon, was the owner of the Speakeasy, and someone most men feared. He took it upon himself to look after Susie, and gave her everything she wanted, including a nightly spot as a dancer in his club. He owned her.

    Susie was loyal to Simon, that was until two strangers arrive at the club, Blood and Michael. There was an immediate attraction between Susie and Blood. They felt drawn to one another, as if somehow connected.

    Night after night the two strangers made an appearance, and night after night the attraction between Susie and Blood grew. Simon though believed that Susie was his, and wouldn’t let her go without a fight, a supernatural one.

    For only being 82 pages long, Ms. Zama has packed a lot in, and the book felt much longer, though at times it did seem quite repetitive.

    Without being directly told, you get the sense that some of the characters are not human, and that some kind of darkness lurking within the club.

    The plot mainly revolves around Susie and Bloods shared attraction, and how they can’t get enough of one another. Then you have Simon’s dismay, and rage at being sidelined, leading to a big finale.

    The book is a quick and easy read, and I read it in one sitting. It had enough action to keep me hooked, and a well thought out storyline that naturally flowed, and didn’t feel forced. However, I would of loved the book to of been that little bit longer, and for the author to of delved a bit deeper into the characters, and their back stories.

    Reviewed by Stacey on

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  13. Dave Higgins (verified owner)

    Zama combines a vibrant portrayal of the illegal drinking clubs of 1920’s America with the trauma of being a first generation immigrant, then adds a dash of the mystical, to create a paranormal romance that is fresh in both setting and issues.

    Two years ago, Susie left her small village in China for America to marry a man she’d never met. Only to discover upon arrival that he’d died. Accepting an offer of sanctuary from Simon, his business partner, she finds herself among the smoke and noise of 1920’s Chicago. The long hours and short dresses of speakeasies reveal a world where women are as free as men; a freedom she embraces. However, when Blood, a patron, offers her something more than room and board, she discovers Simon’s offer is just a different cage, and that she only buried the expectation that Chinese women will be dutiful not shed it.

    This novella is formed of two strands: the struggle of a young Chinese immigrant to choose between the person she loves and her perceived duty to the person who gave her a life; and a conflict between spirits who bond themselves to humans to achieve a presence in the world.

    Zama’s handling of the romance is skilled: scenes with Blood share the descriptions of freedom that initially fill Susie’s dancing, smoking, and drinking, whereas scenes without him lose this joy, allowing the reader to feel the pull between them; and, while Susie’s feeling that she has to stay with Simon might seem rather strong to some readers, her memories of childhood in China and arrival in America give a good foundation for this surge of duty.

    The concept of spirits who gain power from humans through providing a “benefit” is both interesting, and not noticeably the mythology of a single place squeezed into other places around the world in the manner of, for example, Eastern European vampires who have avoided appearing in other nation’s legends by being exceptional at hiding their true presence. However, the revelation of the metaphysics is, at times, distracting. When Susie first feels the presence of a spirit like those her family warned of, the scene portrays this as a somewhat nebulous fear of ancient myth, but later she demonstrates a much clearer knowledge without any intervening discovery or sense of growing belief; this creates a sense of the narrator withholding things from the reader to maintain mystery, rather than because there is a mystery. In contrast, another character pauses in the middle of a scene to provide several paragraphs of internal dialogue about spirits; while this information is useful to the reader, people do not usually think at length on things they already know – especially while racing to the rescue – so the character seems to turn to the reader to deliver a lecture, which weakens the tension.

    This sense Zama is telling the reader what they need to know now rather than showing the characters facing their issues is exacerbated by the imbalance in points-of-view: most of the book is from the perspective of Susie with only the occasional scene from another character to insert certain facts.

    Therefore, while the ideas behind the two threads support each other, the execution of the more mystical thread at times interferes with the tale of an immigrant struggling to find happiness.

    Susie is – apart from moments of concealing information from the reader – a plausible and sympathetic character; while her angst over her dilemma is a strong feature, it fits well, meaning most readers will recognise the emotional turmoil rather than become irritated by the repetition.

    The supporting cast have the same dichotomy: when feeling emotion, they act in ways that immediately resonate; when revealing the world, they seem annoyingly partial in their thoughts.

    Overall, I found this novella an interesting idea delivered in a style that didn’t suit me. I recommend it to readers seeking a paranormal romance based around duty or among the criminals and free-spirits of the Jazz Age.

    I received a free copy from the author with a request for a fair review.

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  14. Rachel (verified owner)

    Ms. Zama has clearly done her research – I enjoyed the historical details in the story. This is a short novella, and it has great potential for being turned into a full- length novel. Ms. Zama has character profiles/ background blurbs for her characters on her website. I think this story would be best enjoyed after reading those first. The novella doesn’t give a lot of background information for the characters. But, all in all, a quick read, historical details with a mix of fantasy. I would be interested in learning more about the fantasy aspects of this world – who/what are the supernatural beings, how does their world work.

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  15. C.P. Lesley (verified owner)

    A Jazz Age tale, set in a Chicago speakeasy where certain members of the clientele and even of the staff live on another plane. Yes, they are ghosts, and not everyone can see them for what they are. Susie (Su Xie), an immigrant sent from South China to marry a man sight unseen, discovers when she reaches San Francisco that her intended bridegroom has died. His friend helps her out by taking her to Chicago and supporting her, but in return he demands complete and unwavering loyalty. Which becomes a problem for Susie when a man named Blood walks into the speakeasy and wants to dance… This novella only hints at the larger story the author is developing in her trilogy, but it goes down like a well-chilled wine.

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  16. Felicia (verified owner)

    A speakeasy in the 1920s is the setting for this paranormal novella.

    Chinese immigrant, Susie (Su Xie), has the life she never dreamed possible. Sent by her parents to America to fulfill an arranged marriage contract, circumstances lead Susie to instead end up with Simon. When Simon decides to leave the west coast for a new business venture in Chicago he takes Susie with him.

    Susie has more freedom than not only women of her culture but of most women of the time. She drinks, smokes, dresses provocatively, and dances with wild abandon. Simon gives her everything… because Susie belongs to him and him alone.

    Until the night Blood walks into the speakeasy.

    His presence overwhelms Susie before she even knows who he is.

    Drawn to each other, Susie looks forward to Blood’s frequent trips to the speakeasy… and their dances.

    Blood and his ‘brother’, Michael are uneasy about what they sense… and see in the nightclub. But why are they aware of a dark presence? Just who…or what are Blood and Michael?

    At first confused, Susie realizes what she feels for Blood is genuine and is no longer content with the arrangement she has with Simon. But Blood’s frequent visits and the time Susie spends with him have not gone unnoticed by Simon. He demands Susie end the “friendship” and send Blood away.

    Having recently witnessed how dangerous Simon can be, Susie doesn’t want any harm to come to Blood and does as she is told… with a broken heart.

    This leads to a series of confrontations between multiple characters and an otherworldly climax I’ve re-read three times!

    A little loose and confusing in the beginning, this short read quickly lasers in on its plot and takes the reader an unexpectant thrill ride. I recommend it!


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  17. LeTara Moore (verified owner)

    I enjoy reading supernatural-themed stories. This one, in particular, had so much potential for me but fell short. Here’s why: Underdeveloped and rushed. The premise is interesting and the author’s style of writing is pretty smooth, so I had no trouble with it holding my attention. I just had so many questions during and after and I felt they weren’t really answered. Like, why were Blood and Michael in the speakeasy in the first place? Was their purpose for being there specifically for Susie? Where did they come from? What exactly was Blood’s background? I would have liked to have seen a little more about Susie’s background as well. What was it about Susie that made Simon want her so much? Were all of the club’s employees spirits? I feel like this novella could have been a few pages longer to answer those questions. Or maybe I just missed some of the answers. Or maybe those answers are in another book. Even now I’m still wondering what happens next. So, while I enjoyed the author’s style, I just felt the story was lacking. However, I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I’d be willing to give another one of her books a try.

    I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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  18. Sherilyn Decter (verified owner)

    This is a great book. I didn’t know much about it, except it was recommended by a friend. Very gothic. The supernatural 1920s speakeasy angle is unique and works really well. It’s a novella so I gobbled it up in one sitting.

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  19. Donna (verified owner)

    This short story is a great read and something very different to what I normally read. Combining Chinese beliefs on spirits, the twenties Chicago jazz scene, and a sprinkling of romance, it’s an interesting mix that really works. I enjoyed this story so much I read it all in one sitting (not a hardship when it’s a short novella and a fab story!), and have no qualms in recommending it.

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  20. Andrea Stoeckel (verified owner)

    “We can only have if we give first”

    Sui Xie, known as Susie lives and works with Mah Su,Simon. In a speakeasy in Chicago in 1924. However, things aren’t always as they seem as a stranger,Blood, and his brother, Michael arrive on the scene, forcing many battles within Susie, with Simon and an emotional entanglement with Blood that might change all their worlds forever.Set during Prohibition, Susie is amazed that in a time of forbidden things, so much is done to still enjoy life: a fight between good and the temptation evil can spawn

    Is it evil to want to be free? Are the characters willing to fight for it? I dare you to read this and draw your own conclusion. A highly intelligent very interesting recommendation 5/5

    [disclaimer: I received this book from the author and voluntarily reviewed it]

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  21. Suanne (verified owner)

    Ghosts through the Cracks is a paranormal suspense novella. In it, a Chinese mail-order bride immigrant reaches San Francisco to learn her husband has died. Susie (or Sue Xie, her real name) is taken in by Simon, a business partner of her deceased husband-to-be.

    A lot happens in this eight-two-page novella. It could have been somewhat longer and fleshed out in some parts while more repetitive bits could have been cut. The author does a good job with the setting, capturing the sense of a 1920s era Prohibition Chicago speakeasy. The plot, like most romances, mainly revolves the male (Blood) and female (Susie) main characters and their shared attraction which is opposed by the antagonist, Simon, who feels he “owns” Susie as he took her in back in San Francisco. Technically, there are a number of spelling and grammatical problems as a well as overuse of filter words and more telling than showing, all of which were distracting.

    The reader gets a sense of spirits who somehow achieve power from humans by providing a “benefit”—though the benefit is never really clarified. Susie can feel these spirits and identifies them as being like those back in China. Blood and his brother Michael themselves belong with these spirits; they can see other spirits and soon learn that Simon is also a spirit. The supernatural aspect deserves more attention than it gets.

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  22. Robin Goodfellow (verified owner)

    ‘Give into the Feeling’ (Now ‘Ghosts Through the Cracks’), by Sarah Zama, is a romantic thriller about breaking free from the past to live in the present. Su Xie, now going by Susie, is a dancer at a club in Chicago. She meets a handsome stranger named Blood, who entices her with the prospect of freedom, embodying it sensually and without hesitation. What starts off as admiration becomes an alarm when Susie suddenly finds herself choosing between the familiarity of a broken system and the uncertainty of a new life.

    The story was brief but effective. A lot of Susie’s thought processes mirror a twisted loyalty people feel for their abusers. The fact that she is able to empower herself and free herself from that abuser speaks volumes of how much resentment she has; all she needed was that final push, and she took it wholeheartedly. Additionally, when you’re an immigrant in America, you lack a lot of support. You’re willing to do anything for that support, even if it means being exploited. It takes the form of Susie questioning herself and trying to figure out what she should do without Ma Shu, or even Simon.

    I do wish the story was longer. I’d like to know what happened to Michael, Blood, and Susie, and where Susie goes from here. Moreover, while I feel the concept of spirits gets introduced, I would’ve loved for it to be fleshed out more. For now, I’m going to give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

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Good quality.The product is firmly packed.Good service.Very well worth the money.Very fast delivery.

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