Her Substitute: A Masking Novel is a fun read with a lot of detail and several creative twists.
Ghostly Writer always tells a creative masking story, but this one actually starts out rather simply. I actually thought that the entire thrust of the novel was going to be Darien impersonating Ellen Spiller, and looking to seduce her nephew, Jimmy, in some weird sort of gender-masked, psudeo-incest scenario. That would have been entirely fine - it makes for a solid story foundation - but I was pleased to see the twists start rolling in about halfway through. First Darien extends his seduction efforts to another student, and then he duplicates his masking efforts with . . . well, I will let you discover that twist for yourself.
As he has done so well in the past, Ghostly Writer captures the female masking element perfectly, going into extensive detail regarding his deeply Darien has studied his prey, and describing every aspect of the transformation. As far-fetched as the scenario seems at first glance, he really makes you believe that it might be plausible, if not necessarily possible. The dialogue is one of the strongest elements of the story, particularly the way Darien switches voices and speech patterns mid-conversation, seamlessly moving from adult woman to teenage boy and back again. It is a story that could easily get confusing, but Ghostly Writer maintains control throughout.
The only drawback to the story for me - and this is wholly a personal pet-peeve - was the amount of detail invested in Darien's smoking fetish. As much as I understood that it was part of the Ellen impersonation, the degree to which its repeatedly explored was just too much for my taste.