Review by: Fran Cain
“Between Shadow’s Eyes” by Jill Hedgecock (2019, Goshawk Press, paperback, 285 pages, $11.99) is a spooky suspense novel for young adults. Recently orphaned sixteen-year-old Sarah Whitman is trying hard to get by on her own by flying under Social Services’ radar. Armed only with a set of ten game-plan rules her dying father provided to her in a concocted scheme to keep her in her home and out of foster care, and a newly adopted red Doberman Pinscher with a ridged nose known as a zipper-nose, she quickly discovers keeping her age a secret is not going to be simple. For some reason, her dog Shadow is uneasy in Sarah’s home. His incessant barking draws unwelcome attention from the neighbors. Even though she’s short on cash and afraid of being found out, Sarah makes an appointment with a dog behaviorist, Dr. Claudia Griffin. When she sees Shadow, a rescue beautiful enough to be a show dog, Dr. Griffin seems strangely obsessed with him. She gives Sarah the absurd diagnosis that Shadow’s problem is that he can see ghosts.
Brushing Dr. Griffin off as a weirdo, Sarah goes back home. But when the air in her house turns icy cold, chairs start throwing themselves around, and the image of a teenage boy appears in her dining room, terrified Sarah runs to what she believes is a safe haven with Dr. Griffin. Normally standoffish, Shadow tolerates Dr. Griffin enough to allow her to cuddle him and stroke his forehead. Sarah soon learns that when she touches that same spot between Shadow’s eyes, she can see the spirit of another young man and figures out she can communicate with him. Dr. Griffin tells Sarah she has done clinical trials with ghost-seeing dogs that she bred. She owned one of them, Celeste, now dead, another red Doberman suspiciously similar to Shadow. She convinces Sarah that she knows the cure for Shadow’s ghost-sensing disorder. At wit’s ends, Sarah trusts Dr. Griffin enough to allow the treatment and agrees to stay overnight.
Things start to get even weirder when Sarah finds an old news article about two high school boys who were killed in a car duel over a girl on prom night in 1985. The location of the crash matches Dr. Griffin’s address, and the address of one of the boys killed matches Sarah’s. Hence the hauntings, or so Sarah believes. Sarah is given a warning by a local woman related to one of the dead boys. She believes that Dr. Griffin was directly involved in the deaths of the boys, as well as a number of other senseless deaths in the years since then. Fearing she might be next, Sarah flees, and all hell breaks loose. At risk of giving up her own secrets and her freedom, Sarah is caught smack dab in the middle of a ghostly battle, and a fight for her life.
This is the latest release from our own Jill Hedgecock (“Chasing Jill Hedgecock”, September 2016 p. 14) a regular contributor to The Diablo Gazette. She is passionate about dogs, wildlife, and rhino preservation. Check out her debut novel, “Rhino in the Room” (2018, Goshawk Press). Jill returns to bookends next month. Contact her at www.jillhedgecock.com.