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ESSENCE's January Book Club Read: Kindred Spirits

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Mention vampires, ghosts and time travel to some readers, and you may get an "Are you for real?" look. But more of us than we may know are jumping on the urban paranormal bandwagon, thanks to writers such as L.A. Banks, Tananarive Due and Brandon Massey. Understanding there's strength in numbers, the three authors teamed up for The Ancestors (Dafina, $14), a collection of three novellas in which devastating secrets buried for generations finally resurface. Like the best of the speculative fiction genre, each of the tales has seemingly ordinary people who discover the power to commit heroic acts-some in the past, present and future. Will it scare you? Well, yes. But these stories will empower you as well. "Not being aware of what we've achieved holds us back," says Massey, author of such goth classics as Dark Corner, who contributes "The Patriarch" to the book.

Massey, who has edited anthologies containing stories by Due and Banks, approached his colleagues two years ago with the idea for a book focusing on our ancestors. Banks, who wrote the chart-topping Vampire Huntress Legends series, contributes "Ev'ry Shut Eye Ain't Sleep," the story of a Gulf War veteran living on the streets of Philadelphia. With the novella "Ghost Summer," Due revisits a fictitious hundred-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of three boys that still hovers over a northern Florida community. But only children are openhearted enough to see the ghosts that roam the woods. "We have so many secrets," says Due. "I think the supernatural element can answer a lot of questions that haven't been answered."

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