A page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The CA page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy's, Giants playing in the World Series, Gone with the Wind, and many books that I've never heard of (after all, she's a bookseller, no?) The reading experience (I couldn't put down the book in the beginning) and the setting are a solid 4, but the plot planning and technique are a 3 - by the middle of the book, everything was a bit forced and predictable. The author carefully used the chapter before to plan what's going to happen in the next. I will still recommend this book to my book-loving friends. Who wouldn't love to read a story about what could have been; would have been? There would always be some regrets and sorrow in whatever life we choose, no?...more
Since I have never read any of his other works, I did not know what to expect...so this book was a genuine surprise, a big one. This guy is great withSince I have never read any of his other works, I did not know what to expect...so this book was a genuine surprise, a big one. This guy is great with words...in fact, he enjoyed himself so much that sometimes he got carried away with the writing, yet he seemed to enjoy his own wits and words tremendously. Not sure if I loved the fantasy subplot, but the characters, the writing, his knowledge of human nature, literature and the world, his humor, the globe trotting, his way with words and sentences, the introspection that this book elicited in me - all worth a solid 5....more
Just realized most people's review on this book is a rant or one star...but the unique heroine herself and her love of reading and books deserve a 4 sJust realized most people's review on this book is a rant or one star...but the unique heroine herself and her love of reading and books deserve a 4 stars already. The world building and characters are quite interesting as well. You'd think the timeline is Medieval in the beginning, but as you read along you'll realize that it's actually post apocalypse in the near future....more
The writing deserves a 5-stars, but I wasn't that impressed with the plot, or the revelation at the end, especially since I'm reading Red Rising rightThe writing deserves a 5-stars, but I wasn't that impressed with the plot, or the revelation at the end, especially since I'm reading Red Rising right after it. Since this is the first of a trilogy. I'll reserve my final review of this book until after I finished the series, to see if this volume carried its weight in the whole story. At the mean time...I'll give it a four....more
The plot: Was there one, or the author just followed her flow as she wrote with no clear direction? Nothing is logicalI waited 7 years for this book.
The plot: Was there one, or the author just followed her flow as she wrote with no clear direction? Nothing is logical except for the business aspects of the shops.
The pace: Slow with lots of repetitive scenes and actions.
The characters: Dicken-ish, an unlovable man and some revengeful rooks (large black raven-like birds).
The setting: Great, if you like business and old time London in a bleak and dark way with lots of deaths.
The writing: Only thing that kept me reading till the end; wonderful use of words, lyrical prose…not without struggle, though.
The story was quite simple. Bellman, as a boy, killed a rook with a catapult while his three friends watched. Bellman later became a very successful businessman, a family-owned mill and a stranger inspired funeral business called Bellman and Black. On the personal side he suffered through lots of deaths of family and friends. The deaths may or may not have something to do with his killing of the rook. He became a bit detached from his human side, ignoring friends and family. Then he died, which, similarly, may or may not has anything to do with the killing of the rook.
I could tell Diane Setterfield spent a great deal of time doing research for this book. Her descriptions and facts of rooks, mills and the funeral business were all spectacular and informative. Although most readers enjoy more plot-driven books, I truly love reading books that also implemented real facts of certain subjects, especially places, customs and history, as long as the facts contribute to the understanding of the story. Case in point: Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and Diane Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. Although Setterfield wrote extensively about running the business of a mill and a funeral home, and included lots of facts about rooks, and weak plot and character makes these facts overbearing and a waste of time. Her prose was brilliant, as usual. She’s an expert in using the right phrases and arranging her words for the right effect. Her usage of English is excellent and her descriptions evocative. Sometimes orotund and overly wordy in a lifeless way:
“Far from it. The rook is no theatrical conjuror with his top hat full of tricks, deluding your eye into perceiving what is not. He is quite the opposite: a magician of the real. Ask your eyes, What color is light? They cannot tell you. But a rook can. He captures the light, splits it, absorbs some and radiates the rest in a delightful demonstration of optics, showing you the truth about light that your own poor eyes cannot see.”
After reading the above paragraph, one would wonder: are colors and the rook’s perception of colors important to the story? NO.
“His cry is harsh and grating, made for a more ancient world that existed before the innovation of the pipe, the lute and the viol. Before music was invented he was taught to sing by the planet itself. He mimicked the great rumble of the sea, the fearsome eruption of the volcanoes, the creaking of glaciers, and the geological groaning as the world split apart in its agony and remade itself.”
Lots of passages like the above two, plus pages and pages of words describing Bellman running his day-to-day businesses. Prose did not help the story’s lack of luster in this case.
Unless you intend to buy the book to read how beautiful her words are and you are okay without feeling a bit of resonance in your heart for the characters or their situation; or you are one of those more elite readers, skip this and read her first book, The Thirteenth Tale, instead.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance reading copy....more
There will definitely no book 3 or 4 in my future... Sometimes one needs to trust their own instincts, and shouldn't be forced into reading a book jusThere will definitely no book 3 or 4 in my future... Sometimes one needs to trust their own instincts, and shouldn't be forced into reading a book just because an attractive movie trailer!...more
This book could have been so much more...with such an interesting plot, conflicted yet attractive characters and wonderful world building/setting (SouThis book could have been so much more...with such an interesting plot, conflicted yet attractive characters and wonderful world building/setting (South, Civil War vs. present day). I could see why a movie was made based on the above factors: forbidden love, characters torn between two worlds, mysterious families and past, unbelievable power that could used to do good, as well as bad...and a haunted mansion with an attractive owner... I loved how the main character was a love-sick boy, not a girl as in most other YA books.
Unfortunately, there are several factors that did not contribute to a good rating for the series:
1. The story drags on too much without smooth transitions from one part to another. The story could be told in less than two books, 4 are just too many.
2. The characters are not consistent in their actions and beliefs. It's hard to really know and cheer for them, except that they love each other, just like Edward and Bella from Twilight. (Did I mention how much the beginning and plot of this series reminded me of Twilight? By the way, I DID like Twilight, so I'm not one of those anti-paranormal fans) The first person thinking of a new twist is a genius, all others are just copycats.
3. There are so many opportunities to make the 2 main characters likable, yet the author(s) failed; probably neither of them is good in writing from her heart to begin with. Not to mention the collaboration, which may also hinder the smooth flow of the story. It also happened to most of the supporting characters, so I feel sad for the extremely great ones, as Macon and Amma, since they would go down, with the series.
4. Terrible and unpolished writing and grammar, weak descriptives and word choices.
“Just as I lay down, she sat up. I sat up, she flopped back down. Awkward. That was my every move, when it came to her.”
"There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave. I never even saw it coming."
"I knew what I was doing. You don't. You think you do, but you don't. She was in my head again, as it she'd always been there."
"Everything around me changed, and it was like I was somewhere else. I was in the garden, but not in the garden..."
I'm a serious note-taking and highlighter (with Kindle) when reading, and the only phrase I highlighted in this book was in the beginning: "There were only two kinds of people in our town. The stupid and the stuck." After reading the first two books of the series (and skimping through the third and the fourth), I seriously think a third person wrote that quote...
5. People can die and be revived as the authors pleased; as well as the characters gaining and losing their power(s). Anything goes. This is the main killer for me. This predicted the forever dragging on of the plot.
I wish some wonderful YA authors, like Roth, Taylor, or Oliver could take this series and rewrite the books so not to waste the characters and the setting. ...more