A surreal adventure set in a dream world overlaying reality, Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford (The Girl in the Glass) is an alluring blend of the mundane, the metaphysical and the supernatural.
Small-town librarian Owen walks the same way to work and stops in the same convenience store every day. After a robber murders the store clerk and knocks Owen unconscious, he finds that night he can travel out of his body--"a silent, incorporeal witness to the workings of the world." In this ethereal plane, Owen meets a fellow "sleeper" who warns him of predators: "cutters" who can sever the cord to his body, killing it and corrupting his spirit; the miasma that can erase his life and everyone's memory of it. Hyperaware of these threats, Owen uses his ability to spy on the murderer plaguing his sleepy town. But what seems a vicious robbery proves paranormal, and Owen will discover how deep his cowardice is rooted as he debates the risk of protecting the community he loves.
Ford, a Nebula and Shirley Jackson award-winner, plays with the mercurial nature of existence by artfully creating a world from the blurred line between sleep and wakefulness. Owen bears "a special responsibility to see how people live, and to know their joy and suffering," learning they are "most themselves after sunset." Owen shows that acting courageous doesn't mean battling indiscriminately--it means knowing one's limits, trusting others and abandoning habits clung to out of fear. Ford blends this message about the everyday with tactful gore and nightmarish creatures, adding a dose of horror to a genre-bending murder mystery. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer