Average family. Average job. Average existential crisis.
After thirty boring years, nothing about Cora Riley’s life has measured up to her childhood dreams of being truly extraordinary. It’s too bad that the night she decides to seek out her specialness she crashes on a rural highway.
Cora wakes in the clutches of the Mistress of the underworld who sets her a seemingly impossible quest. If she wants a second chance at life, Cora must find her way through the dozen heavens and return to the castle in three days.
With the help of an unusual guardian angel named Jack and a little boy named Xavier, Cora navigates the afterlife doorfield and quickly learns that gods and monsters are very real indeed. Terrifying and tempting obstacles litter her path; only the power of belief – in the Otherworld, in her companions, and in herself – will return her to the land of the living.
At age thirty, Cora Riley is living at home with her parents and dancing a fine line between nervous breakdown and life crisis. When Cora finally comes to the epiphany that life’s fulfillment of joy is close at hand, reality comes crashing down around her in the form of a tragic car accident. Once gaining consciousness, Cora finds that she has slipped the bonds of reality and traveled to a place far beyond the heaven or hell of her imagination. As any epic tale goes, Cora is tasked with a quest that will lead to her own salvation, or, demise. Gritting her teeth, shaking off the whiny exterior from the first few chapters, and putting her big girl panties on Cora sets off on an adventure to save her herself.
As a 30-something woman, I found that though I appreciated the story that Di Julio was telling I was much more in-tune to the personal war that Cora was fighting with herself in relation to where her path had led her in life. Though well defined, the imagery in the tale was not as crisp as the character of Cora, or, the characters she meets along her path. Di Julio’s ability to articulate her character into relatable beings is rather powerful, but with the surroundings of the magic realm Cora is transmigrated to ill-defined, this caused the story to lose some luster for me.
I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading the fantasy genre, however, do not feel that it would be the first on the list (though please do not misunderstand as it does at least make the list).