2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 because there was no one thing I could really put my finger on that I hated.
This is your basic, watered down contemporary m2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 because there was no one thing I could really put my finger on that I hated.
This is your basic, watered down contemporary mystery with a bit of a Gothic vibe. Ruby Rousseau dropped out of college a semester shy of graduating. She has several ghosts in her closet, so to speak, and she hasn't been in contact with anyone from Tarble College since she left. The mistaken delivery of a missing girl's suitcase to Ruby leaves her with many questions, inciting her return to Tarble. There, she discovers that Tarble's affairs are more complex and mysterious than she had ever suspected, and it may explain both the missing girl and Ruby's own problems.
It's hard to discuss my issues with this book without getting too detailed, but I can say that I found most of the characters flat and uninteresting. There is definitely a noticeable character arc with Ruby, the main character, in that she develops and grows throughout the book. Unfortunately, it seemed stiff and a little contrived. The secondary characters were not well fleshed out, and I didn't like how the bad guys screamed "Look at me! I'm bad!" and the so-called good guys were more or less infallible. Also, Mark Suter, the love interest of several of the girls in the book, caused THREE separate girls to try to commit suicide and TWO additional girls to drop out of school they were so upset? I'm sorry, I'm just not buying it.
I wish that the author had chosen to go further with the Gothic theme instead of "grounding" the mystery at the end. Once again, it's hard to describe without spoilers, but the twists and turns led to everything being wrapped up neatly. Speaking of wrap-ups, I can't stand epilogues 99% of the time, and this is no exception. Every single person is described in this happily ever after ending. The book would have been so much better if it had just ended with the last chapter and left a little to the imagination.
People who liked Jennifer McMahon's Don't Breathe a Word might like this book or fans who can do without the extensive/intricate plotting of Kate Morton (but don't expect Morton-caliber writing)....more
"And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you’ve prayed for. God probably
"And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you’ve prayed for. God probably won’t undo what’s been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day."
I hesitate to begin this review with the evaluation of the religious moorings of this book. I think it will appeal to many people, Christian or not, but one of my favorite parts of this book was hearing Frank's father reconcile his faith with the world around him. It was done so well, and even though Frank's father is a minister, it never felt preachy or heavy-handed. While this is maybe only a small part of the book, it was my favorite part and the thing that most stands out to me now, weeks later.
The story is narrated by Frank Drum and chronicles a life-changing summer in a small town in Minnesota. There are four deaths this summer, some closer to home than others, and yet all affect Frank and his family in a different way. There's Jake, Frank's younger brother, who is sweet and smart but has a stutter. And of course Ariel, the lively and loved older sister who is heading to Juliard in the Fall. As the family dynamics shift and change, Frank's father finds ways to keep them together.
Really, this read almost like a small town mystery that was incredibly character driven. It reminded me a lot of Rob Reiner's Stand by Me (the movie, not Stephen King's The Body, which is very different) in part because of the coming-of-age aspect and in part because of the mystery and in part because there is an older boy who is the bully of the town. If you liked that movie, I think you will like this book.
My only real problem with the book was that the pacing was a little slow at times; although, I think that contributed to the sleepy feel of the town that we are supposed to get. Also, Frank's first person narration didn't always work. Since he was a kid at the time, usually when anything important was revealed, Frank was eavesdropping and not actually a part of the scene. This was a flaw in the choice of narrative voice, I think, but I'm not sure it would have been a better book told from any other POV....more
As many other reviewers mentioned, this is definitely not what I expected. It is definitely more of a creepy suspense story than anything else.
I giveAs many other reviewers mentioned, this is definitely not what I expected. It is definitely more of a creepy suspense story than anything else.
I give the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the book 4 stars. The rest of the book I give 2 stars. So I decided to average out the two and settle on 3 stars. I've read that many other reviewers had the same complaint... it was as if McMahon had all of these great ideas for can't-put-it-down cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, but then when she got to the end, she didn't even really know what to do with the story line.
But I digress. This story is told alternately in the present and fifteen years earlier. The present follows Phoebe and her relationship with Sam, a down-to-earth man who is still haunted by the disappearance of his sister 15 years prior. The chapters from the past follow Lisa, Sam's sister, in the few weeks prior to her disappearance. Lisa obviously believed that she was going into the forest to be taken over to the fairy world, but year later, most people chalked it up to a very human person doing a terrible thing. I read this book until way past my bedtime because McMahon did a great job with the suspense.
Unfortunately, McMahon failed to deliver with the ending. There was so much potential in the rest of the book, but like I said, it was as if she had included too many plot twists and she herself had forgotten how she planned to explain everything. Here comes my big spoilery rant... So many things are never explained in the book such as: (view spoiler)[ Who/what trashed Phoebe's and Evie's homes? And why? They had already found what they were looking for at the cabin, so what were they doing in their homes? Just letting them know that Teilo's up in their shit? And why did they invade Evie's home? That really doesn't make sense because I thought Evie was in on it... And also, why would Evie fake agoraphobia??? What in the world did that add to the ruse? I guess it was to make her less suspicious to Phoebe and Sam, but it really didn't make any sense. What happened to Gabrielle and the baby after Phoebe and Sam discovered everything at Phyllis' house. And, this isn't an unanswered question, just one of my pet peeves... why in the world would Hazel leave her diary from when she was FIFTEEN out and opened in the basement. That's just absolutely ridiculous that Phoebe and Sam just happened upon it laying on a desk. I'm only in my 20's, and I have no idea where anything is from my teenager days, let alone my diary. And I sure as hell would not leave it out... Just sayin'. (hide spoiler)]...more
I really liked this book. My only problem was that some of the prose became tired when it would give detailed information about the streets that everyI really liked this book. My only problem was that some of the prose became tired when it would give detailed information about the streets that everything was located on. ...more