Into the Dim opens with an intriguing mystery that readily captures the reader’s interest. Among the characters the reader’s initially introduced, it’Into the Dim opens with an intriguing mystery that readily captures the reader’s interest. Among the characters the reader’s initially introduced, it’s only the protagonist, Hope, who holds fast to the belief of solving it. A visit to an estranged aunt in Scotland unwittingly places Hope into a position to gain the answers she’s long sought, and even lead her to a few revelations that she little expected or even dreamed were possible.
Time travel and interactions with the past can make for an exciting and intriguing read. However here, the drama and mystery that is introduced quickly falls away into campy cartoonish action. When reading the interactions that take place amongst the adult and teenage characters, it is rather difficult to identify a mature voice—a voice of reason. The dialogue makes the various arguments that arise seem quite naive and even theatrical. This is especially true for the story’s antagonists.
Taylor also tends to overuse the “‘I need to tell you something important!” […] ‘Not now!’” interaction with her characters. Though it is meant to provide comic relief, it cuts the drama in the extreme. Moments where time is of the essence are drawn out with silly, unnecessary conversation and inaction, while instances where there is time to speak and divulge secrets are full of missed opportunities.
Yet though it might seem that this novel solely focuses on levity, the novel also describes situations that might be more appropriate for mature readers, namely attempted rape and descriptions of physical abuse. Into the Dim is a novel best suited for readers seeking comical fantasy entertainment. Those seeking a new twist to a more traditional historical novel with drama and intrigue might find this novel somewhat disappointing.
Lost chances and missed opportunities, resignation, change, war, suppression and oppression are among the themes surrounding West’s novel. For such aLost chances and missed opportunities, resignation, change, war, suppression and oppression are among the themes surrounding West’s novel. For such a short novel, it is heavy. The heaviness is pervasive and there is no sense of reprieve for any of the characters. The novel’s narrator does begin her story almost with an apology…things aren’t as they seem…the people you’ll meet will not be in their best form. What unfolds is a highly depressing tale for our protagonist Chris. Though he once found happiness in his youth, he let it fall away in a sudden moment of angry frustration. The life he currently has with his wife is likewise frustrating…a wife of cold, statuesque beauty who has turned his home into a modern palace. When reading, one might readily notice elements that Daphne du Maurier would later develop in her novel Rebecca.
The effects of war have left Chris in shell shocked repressed state. But even in this state, he’s unhappy and unsatisfied. Though he is given the opportunity to rekindle his friendship with his lost first love, Margaret, there is still an underlying unhappiness and unrest. Though initially Margaret does seem to be a voice of reason, this feeling is soon lost when she’s left to make fanciful, mystical notions about the children they both lost in the new relationships they had forged.
Once Chris “awakens” from his repressed fog, he is left with only one course to take—a course that is seemingly no better than any of the others with which he has faced. West’s novel is about loneliness and aloneness met in various states. ...more
While a reader might select this story after reading The Night We Said Yes with the expectation of obtaining further insights into Matt’s character, tWhile a reader might select this story after reading The Night We Said Yes with the expectation of obtaining further insights into Matt’s character, the revelations provided are somewhat muted. When reading The Night We Said Yes, Matt seems a rather aloof and distant character. Through his interactions with Ella, it is apparent that he has difficulty in communicating his thoughts and feelings. “Matt’s Story” shows the reader the depth of this awkward aloofness. Again the author plays with the idea of truth or dare. Though it is a game he is willing to play, Matt is unwilling to apply it to his own life circumstances. As a result, Matt is passive throughout and willingly lets circumstances take control. In a way, this allows the reader to question the veracity of his feelings towards others.
Unfortunately, as with The Night We Said Yes, the timeline of this story affects the conflicts that occur. Matt’s external conflicts with his friends, as well as his brother are muted as a result of the various shifts in time. The reader doesn’t get to experience these important relationship developments, though we’re told they’ve occurred. Arguably, this also can negatively impact Matt’s moment of catharsis and internal self-revelation, which should have been such a momentous moment for him and for the reader.
That said, this is a short story. Through this medium, it achieves what it set out to do, namely, provide the reader with further insights into what took place during Matt’s six month disappearance, and what led him to the course of action he takes in The Night We Said Yes. ...more
The Night We Said Yes tells a story about loss and second chances, personal fears and the courage needed to face them. Essentially, the story describeThe Night We Said Yes tells a story about loss and second chances, personal fears and the courage needed to face them. Essentially, the story describes two nights—one past, one present—that are especially salient to the two main characters, Matt and Ella. Two meetings—one that’s full of shyness, hope and happiness, the other wrought with tension and strain, even though there is the potential hope of change. The author plays with the idea of “truth or dare” — a game the main characters play over the course of the novel. When faced with the truth, does one have enough courage to dare try again? In order for this to be successful, trust is needed. The story essentially attempts to chronicle the building and rebuilding of this trust between Matt and Ella.
As the story progresses, the reader can see that both are culpable for the problems that have arisen in their friendship over the year in which these meetings occur. Though it’s apparent Matt and Ella have chemistry, they’re also uncomfortable with each other. Both try to mask it, which only leads to further problems, increasing the lack of trust that exists between them.
Though I enjoyed parts of this story, I don’t feel the choice of timeframe is conducive to the weighty decision-making the characters face. While it does work for the story set in the past, Matt and Ella’s initial meeting, the present day story would have been better told over the course of a few days or weeks. There is too much happening over the course of this one night—too many revelations and emotional changes for any meaningful decision making to occur. The sudden changes in Ella’s reactions to the situations in which she’s placed make her seem somewhat flippant and immature. This feeling is only heightened by various little contradictory comments and internal musings that are made throughout the story, not just about herself, but with her relationship with Matt and her best friend as well. Unfortunately, this can detract from the optimistic feeling the reader should be able to derive from the book’s final pages. Is Ella’s final choice solely based upon a new dare rather than one based upon an understanding of truth and trust? ...more
Though commendable for exposing children to the effects of war upon families within a small town, the novel reads like wartime propaganda. Even thoughThough commendable for exposing children to the effects of war upon families within a small town, the novel reads like wartime propaganda. Even though Montgomery hints at a character’s fate in her earlier novels, the way it is achieved is rather idealistic and unnatural. This “ending” can be rather disappointing for a modern reader who has been exposed to many examples of realistic portrayals of the effects of World War I upon individuals and families. As well, the constant reinforcement of how the character’s fate is achieved is unrealistic as well, given the circumstances.
Also, the romantic elements of the story pale in comparison to the development of Anne and Gilbert’s relationship in the preceding novels. Like many wartime romances, the romance here somehow spontaneously manifests itself. While this inclusion is warranted, a few looks and brief exchanges over a handful of meetings and letters is simply not enough to convey to the reader a true meeting of kindred spirits. ...more