“You’re the worst damn medic I’ve ever seen!” are the words
that John addresses to his new ambulance partner, Ella. Ella is used to being
treated as an incompetent, “fucking moron” at work. Yet everything seems to
work magically well for her. When she unintentionally resurrects a patient, her
new skill is not accepted by everyone. The pathologist, Dr. Judah Azriel, is stunned
when Ella resurrects a dead person in his presence, and more so when he learns
that she can also heal patients. But he thinks that Ella can't play with death
as though it were her pet. But can he stop her from helping and saving people
with a gift that she can't even fully control?
The writing is gorgeous and Slaughter knows how to infuse energy into words, coming across as a virtuoso in phraseology and drama, filling her writing with realism even though the narrative is surreal. She doesn't waste words and her economy for words in this novel elevates the quality of drama and augments the entertainment potential of the book. The dialogues are terrifically written. There is no moment one will feel as though an exchange is forced or awkward. For instance, the first encounter between Ella and Dr. Azriel is dramatic and enticing, especially as it enriches characterization while providing hints of conflict.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Ella. Raphaella. Ella for short. Two is faster than four.
People like efficiency.”
“Dr. Azriel. Everyone knows you, but they don’t like you.
You give them the creeps.”
He shrugged. “Pathologists are never the life of the party.”
“Never the life of anything.”
White Cloud by Joy Slaughter is a captivating psychological thriller, a short read that feels like devouring cookies. You are on the last page before you are even aware and you wish there was more. Ella is a heroine that readers will follow closely. She works in an environment in which she doesn't feel appreciated; in fact, she has come to a point where she convinces her that people need to yell to feel good, so she is always expecting someone to yell at her. Told in the third person and mainly from Ella's perspective, the author deftly and convincingly reveals Ella's inner turmoil, capturing the faintest of her emotions. Joy Slaughter offers an authoritative and unsparing account of what it feels like to work as a medic, proving finely drawn portraits of characters that will stay with readers long after they have put this book down. It is deft and balanced, as delightful as one can expect it to be.