Ms. Parker has created a really neat protagonist. Cassy is about 20 years old, cute, creative, vulnerable, and as she is about to find out, betrayed by a false sense of maturity. She is pursuing an art degree at a small college in New York state, has a boyfriend whom she lives with, Raleigh, the hunk, makes her feel wanted and loved. Though the supernatural will make a gradual entrance into the plot, an ominous and vicious monster will have a head start. Those who have been victimized by domestic abuse will want to leap into the pages and rescue Cassy, who is too idealistic to see what Raleigh is evolving into. Before she can safely remove herself from violence, Cassy is running away from everything. Alas...in the technology age, there is no running away. The brute is on her tail and any haven she finds is precariously temporary.
Cassy's sweetness and work ethic land her into an apparent oasis. Hundreds of miles away, our heroine embarks on a new life. New friends (...or are they?), a job at a florist, and a Prince Charming (too good to be true?) have come her way. What could make this already complicated life even more so? Cassy becomes aware of a hidden power. She can make things happen, contrary to the forces of nature, by willing them. Does this power have limitations? How can it be summoned? Cassy has a lot to learn, and the reader knows she will have to harness it for an inevitable final confrontation. Complicated enough? Unfortunately for Cassy, old wounds are opened. Did her parents really die when she was young? Is there a mysterious force, or persons watching her? If so, why? Is her new Prince Charming all that he represents, or should she fear him? Of course, we will find out her past and present are intertwined.
The spirit refers to both that supernatural force dwelling inside Cassy, and also a hidden strength she must tap into to battle the monstrous fiend pursuing her. Not able to count on the justice system, restraining orders, or her own brute strength, Cassy's spirit will make her a formidable foe to her enemies...but will that be enough? Very reasonably priced on Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), Sheila Parker's "The Spirit Within" would be a great Christmas gift for anyone enjoying stories of strong heroines, the supernatural, and beating the odds.