What if you could help those who've passed on get a second chance—but at the risk of your own life? Four broken strangers volunteer to become the first humans in North America to join the international VESSELS program. Their bodies will host the Spirits who seek to right past wrongs and earn a chance at Elysium. Disguised inside a homeless shelter in Reno, the program is facilitated by a retired Army officer, a former ER Doctor, and a tech-savvy teen who tracks the Spirits merged with their Vessels through an ancient ritual on the Anaho Indian Reservation. The Vessels only have seven days to succeed—and to survive. But when the vengeful spirit of a serial killer enters one of them, they learn not all Spirits are here for redemption.
Elias's imaginative if murky urban fantasy debut conjures a world in which the living can become Vessels for the spirits of the dead. The Vessels program purports to do good by allowing spirits the chance to right the wrongs they committed in life, but preys on vulnerable people to do so, emotionally manipulating the down-and-out into signing on as Vessels. Among those coerced into the program are police officer Tal Davis, who falls into a depression after her partner dies; Link, who escapes from juvenile detention after being falsely convicted of murder; and Avani Nair, whose best friend leaves her unconscious in an alley after a (graphically described) attempt to rape her. All three seek refuge at a shelter in Reno, the home of the first North American branch of the Vessels program. The program's "spirit guard," Liam, uses threats and supernatural powers to convince Tal, Link, and Avani to become Vessels, and unknowingly puts them at risk from a vengeful rogue spirit with a dark agenda. The grey morality of the Vessels program is frustratingly underexplored and the mythology around its origins remains confusing throughout. Readers will be drawn in by the exploration of redemption and the afterlife, but disappointed by how frequently these themes are lost in the noise.