{Book Review} Second Lives by P.D. Cacek

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Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Published: April 11th 2019
Pages: 256

P.D. Cacek’s Second Lives is every bit heartbreakingly beautiful as it is compelling.

Four families will be shaken to their core. Rocked by the of deaths of their loved ones, the four families must find a way to move forward. But there’s a catch. Something miraculous occurs while the four people are declared dead by doctors. The heart rate monitor starts beeping. Doctors look over as their patients regain consciousness.

When the four patients come back to life, they claim to be someone else. The four revived people died at different agesโ€“from children to adults. The bodies of the four patients are inhabited by the souls of people long dead.ย They are complete strangers in familiar bodies and proof that transmigration of souls is a real thing. People don’t believe them at first, but the hospital psychologist gets everyone on board with this idea of assimilation. Helping assimilate a person who is in your loved one’s body is definitely a hard task. ย I couldn’t imagine going through anything like it.

Second Lives is broken down into seven parts, from June to December. You get the backstory on the eight main characters involved in the transmigration of souls. At times I laugh, but mostly I just teared up because of the characters’ situation. Each character has their own chapters, which enhances the story. You really get a good view point of what the characters are going through on a personal level. Each character has their own voice and distinct personality.

P.D. Cacek’s writing is great and the prose makes for a quick, easy reading experience. Second Lives is the type of book you’ll want to read in one sitting. I read this one late into the night. I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know how it was all going to play out. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I laid in bed trying to fall asleep to no avail because I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. Second Lives is one helluva read. It checks off all the boxes. If you haven’t read this one yet, you should remedy that immediately. I looking forward to reading P.D. Cacek’s other work.



When four patients spontaneously regain consciousness after being declared dead, their loved ones are ecstatic and words like “miracle” and “miraculous” begin to float around the hospital. But the jubilation is short lived when the patients neither recognize their families nor answer to their names. Each one vehemently claims to be someone else, someone who lived, and died, in the past. When it’s suggested that all four are suffering from fugue states, one of the doctors says that he recognizes a name and verifies he not only knew the girl but was there when she died in 1992. It soon becomes obvious that the bodies of the four patients are now inhabited by the souls of people long dead. A frightened little boy killed in 1956 cries out for his mother from the body of an 81 year old Alzheimer’s patient, the soul of a spinster killed in a Suffragette rally wakes in the body of a new mother; an orthodox Jew, murdered in 1922, opens the eyes of a gay suicide and a teenage girl wakes to discover she’s now in the body of a 45 year old woman. The hospital psychiatrist, after talking with them, dubs the four “The Travelers” and believes they are proof of the transmigration of souls. They are more than just lost souls, he tells the grieving families, they are completely alone and terrified, displaced into bodies that aren’t their own and trapped in a world they can’t understand. If they are to survive they’ll need help and to this end the doctor asks the families to make a supreme sacrifice and do just that: to help these strangers assimilate into society and their new lives. To care for a complete stranger who looks like the loved one they just lost is a hard thing to ask of people. The families have the right to say no, they are under no legal or moral obligation to help; but they do. Spearheaded by the elderly woman whose husband’s body now holds the soul of a frightened child, but still with reservations and not a little anger, they finally agree to accept the strangers wearing their loved ones bodies, and will do everything they can to help “The Travelers” make as smooth and gentle a transition into their new lives as possible. FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

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