Harper Collins, €15.99

With her third novel, Cecelia Ahern steers slightly away from safe territory in favour of letting her imagination run wild, possibly eliminating any middle-ground between her critics and her fans. It's a brave move for the author who seems to be consumed by her writing endeavours at present.

Taking a very different tone to her previous two offerings, 'If You Could See Me Now' sees Ahern write in a very focused manner on a subject matter that is quite airy-fairy.

This time around Ahern chooses to embrace some 'other world' issues by choosing a spirit amongst her central characters.

Elizabeth Egan is organisation personified. She despises mess, is a fanatical cleaner and only invites order into her life. But, when her flighty alcoholic sister Saoirse dumps her son Luke on her, Elizabeth is forced to reassess her priorities.

When Luke begins to talk about his 'imaginary' friend Ivan, Elizabeth is less than tolerant, feeling no need to indulge the child in silly fantasies. But Elizabeth starts to see Ivan too and everything is about to change for her and her young nephew, leading them on a journey of discovery - during which Elizabeth uncharacteristically throws caution to the wind.

On some levels the addition of a spirit character works brilliantly, with Ahern delving into each character's life stories through Ivan's witty interference. But the vagueness of Ivan's character and other people's tolerance of Elizabeth's odd behaviour seem more than a little bizarre.

For me, the story becomes problematic in that it's never quite clear what Ivan is, be it a ghost, guardian angel or merely a figment of Elizabeth and Luke's imaginations. But maybe it is this mystery that will make the story all the more intriguing to some.

Already being adapted into a Hugh Jackman-starring musical, 'If You Could See Me Now' is certainly set to get plenty of exposure and proves that Ahern is highly regarded as an author of fiction.

Her strength in this, as ever, lies in her insightful dialogue, particularly in how she captures the cluelessness of Ivan and the minds of the children in the book, adding a certain playfulness to the story.

If you're already a fan of Ahern's style of writing then you'll probably be able to cast away the notion that this book has taken all things fantasy a step or two too far. And besides, if it's utter escapism you're seeking, then you're not likely to find excessive use of the imagination a major problem.

Linda McGee