Taproot is a gentle, inviting, and nicely told urban fantasy of a young man in love with gardening and the ghost in love with him. It draws you in immediately and it is a story you want to follow as each of the characters has a unique voice. But a shift in tone near the end and abrupt change in the story flavor are interesting, if jarring, and feel tacked on in order to create a future storyline.
Hamal is a quiet young man working in a nursery. He loves plants but has an oddball reputation for talking to himself – understandable, really, since he can communicate with ghosts. Blue is one of the ghosts who follows Hamal’s otherwise mundane life. When the ghosts suddenly start being pulled into a dead world, a quippy and quixotically lazy Reaper appears to deal with the disturbance. Hamal might actually be more than a ghost whisperer – and the target of the Reaper if he is the one causing the dead world.
Hamal is the definition of a gentle giant – somewhat potato-drawn, quiet, unassuming, and resigned to his unusual fate. Blue, on the other hand, is impulsive, quick to emotion, and wrestling with being completely in love with Hamal. Most of the story is the two trying to figure out what they want (and can have) in the world, until the Reaper appears with her sass. And although I liked Hamal and Blue, the Reaper really stole the show. Her dialogue always put a smile on my face.
There are other characters, mostly ghosts, but they don’t figure much in the story. And Hamal and Blue are very broadly drawn – this isn’t a character study and the focus is on the romance. As noted above, the tone shifts abruptly to be an adventure with a touch of mystery and feels like an add on that perhaps should have waited for a second book. But otherwise, I found this surprisingly adorable, sweet, and heartwarming. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.