The Inhabited World is an unusual ghost story in the sense that the ghost himself might be the most confused character in the novel and that the word “ghost” is never once mentioned in the book. Evan Malloy finds himself trapped in and around the house in which he killed himself ten years earlier, having no idea why any of this is happening to him. All he knows is that he is unable to leave the property and that the only things he knows about since his death are events that have occurred under his direct observation (although he sometimes reads newspapers and computer screens over the shoulders of the current residents of his old home). He has no idea if his father is still alive or how his wife and step-daughter have managed since his death but does know a few things about world events, not a combination of knowledge that gives him any comfort.
Author David Long recounts Evan Malloy’s story in flashback, the story of a young man who ruined his first marriage by giving in to the temptation of a short affair with a co-worker only to eventually be given a second chance at happiness years later when he remarries his ex-wife and creates a new family with her and her daughter. But even this regained happiness is not enough to keep Evan from being overwhelmed by a depressive state that only ends when he pulls the trigger of the pistol that his wife brought to their second marriage.
It is when Maureen Keniston moves into the house that Evan finds himself caring for one of the house’s new residents for the first time. Maureen has come to the house as part of her effort to hide from the doctor at whose hands she has suffered an abusive relationship for the past two years. Evan feels a certain kinship with the woman and her situation and, although she is unable to sense his presence, Evan feels so protective of her that he attempts to give her the advice she needs in order to remain strong enough to break off the destructive affair.
Eventually the reader comes to realize that Evan Malloy may not be a ghost, after all, and that he is something more akin to Maureen’s guardian angel. Perhaps the reason for his own personal purgatory has been revealed to him. Considering his subject matter, David Long has managed to turn what could have easily been a depressing book into a rather inspirational one that requires his readers to look at life through the eyes of someone who has been there and realizes that he gave up on it too soon.
I only found this book thanks to Amy over at the Sleepy Reader who reviewed it on March 4. It continues to amaze me how my reading list changes almost from day-to-day as I spot interesting books on various book blogs...so thanks, Amy.
Rated at 3.5