Cassadaga II: Beyond the Light
by J M Milne

"But he knew he could leave these souls, these spirits, these lost remains of somebody's love."

This sequel to Cassadaga: Breathers blends science fiction, fantasy, and the classic detective novel with the metaphysical exploration of spiritual warfare and psychic powers. It continues the story of Bret Wolf, a reluctant psychic who has been gifted with a strange golden "artifact" by a telepathic dolphin. This artifact propels Bret into unbidden astral travels where he encounters a dark landscape where human features struggle to escape from the ground. He attempts to decipher the meaning of this through consulting Dr. Leagen, a resident psychic in Cassadaga, Florida, which, in actuality, is a community of spiritualists and psychics. It appears that Wolf is destined to be the one who frees captive spirits who have been murdered by a human trafficking gang member named Jahzeel, a man who makes his own asphalt by grinding up his victims' bones to make his driveway skid-proof.

While the narrative would have been enhanced through some additional editing, the plot of this novel is intricate, with many threads developing themes begun in the last book of the series and foreshadowing future events. There is a large cast of colorful characters, especially Bret's stepdaughter, Bethany, who is the reincarnation of Bret's mother. The themes of reincarnation, astral travel, psychic "vision," and the existence of disembodied spirits are central to the story, as is the battle between positive and negative energies. Told in sometimes dense prose, the author develops the growing tension between the evil power of Jahzeel and his fellow traffickers and law enforcement searching for kidnapped young women taken by this ruthless gang. Bret encounters odd phenomena like huge misshapen birds, suddenly changing weather, and finally Lyssa, the goddess of anger, whom Jahzeel summons to destroy Bret. Overall, the author has crafted a gripping and thought-provoking novel.

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