The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond (book 2 in the Lithia Series, published by small publisher Ashland Creek Press) finds Katherine Healy unable to outrun her past and her father. Ghosts begin appearing in her life, just as she has settled into her new home in Lithia, a home her family abandoned long ago for Houston. Roman, an immortal carnivore, has been cast aside in favor of Alex, an immortal vegan and environmentalist, by Kat, but even her perfect relationship is showing signs of cracking under the new pressures Kat faces.
In the wooded town, most of the residents are happy knowing everyone in town and supporting causes that keep the forests protected, but developers are still in the shadows waiting to swoop in and change their way of life. While Kat is hung up on two men, she’s also trying to get her life back to normal, enrolling in college again (at least part time) and holding down her job at the sports show store in town. After running for her life in the last book, Richmond has Kat tackling more mundane obstacles, like keeping good grades and juggling her responsibilities at the store and school.
“I don’t care that it’s 8:15 on a Monday morning and that most of the other fifteen students are straining to keep their eyes open. I don’t care that the room is as drab as a prison, with cinderblock walls painted an uninspiring off-white.” (page 20)
“A ghost runner is someone who is always right behind you, pushing you, always about to pass you. Or so you think. Sometimes there is no runner. Sometimes it’s just a ghost of a runner, the idea of a runner right behind you, that keeps you at your pace.” (page 68)
The return of Kat’s father throws a monkey wrench into the situation, stirring up trouble not only between her and Alex, but also throughout the town. Richmond maintains her engaging sparse prose and her first person narration to capture her reader’s attention and engendering a connection between Kat and the reader. Kat is a 20-year-old woman who is finding that being a grown up is a bit more responsibility than she expected, even if she has been on her own for more than a year working to make ends meet and outrun her past. What’s nice about the second book is that the theme of running is continued, but not in a cliched way — it is part of Kat, it is who she is, how she clears her head, how she thinks.
The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond is a solid second book in a trilogy. The novelist mixes environmental concerns with themes of finding your ground amidst a turbulent sea and the ghosts of the past. It’s about dealing with your responsibilities as a part of nature and as a part of a wider society, and more than that it’s about changing your own actions and behaviors to make the changes in the wider society and world you seek.
About the Author:
Blair Richmond is the pen name of a writer from the Pacific Northwest. Out of Breath and The Ghost Runner are books one and two of the Lithia Trilogy. Visit Blair’s blog for the latest on The Lithia Trilogy.