Megan Harlan
September 05, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Spirits are as roundly characterized as the living in this fey, mesmerizing novel by Sheri Reynolds (whose The Rapture of Canaan was an Oprah’s Book Club selection). Shunned for her disfiguring burn scars, narrator Finch Nobles of A Gracious Plenty tends her Southern small-town cemetery and literally hangs out with the dead — a sensual, kinetic bunch who spend their time affecting the weather and making peace with their pasts. While helping several ghosts settle emotional scores with those still on earth, Finch reacquaints herself with real-life friendship. Reynolds’ earthy insights make the redemptive finale believable — but not before some satisfying storms of retribution. B+

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