The telling of A Virtuous Woman is at least as important as the story, and the telling is magnificent. The voices don't feel contrived or, worse, exacThe telling of A Virtuous Woman is at least as important as the story, and the telling is magnificent. The voices don't feel contrived or, worse, exactly the same; Ruby is Ruby, Jack is Jack, and each is informed by his/her own background and life. The earlier chapters eased me into the story, short, compelling bursts stretching into a narrative traded back and forth until we returned to the start and there we were, seeing all the pieces come together. If I had one wish, it would be to see more of June in another book.
Don't be discouraged by the "Oprah's Book Club" label! This is wonderful writing, and oddly spare in its use of emotion. Gibbons doesn't bludgeon the reader. She lays out the circumstances and you react how you react....more
I must be picky or something, because while I thought the ideas behind this were worth exploring, the execution left me wondering whether an editor haI must be picky or something, because while I thought the ideas behind this were worth exploring, the execution left me wondering whether an editor had got within a mile of the manuscript. There is something distinctly fannish in nature about the words on the page, something that says "I learned how to write solely through my friends on the Internet," and while that's not wrong (I learned a fair bit that way myself), that needs tempering with a healthy dose of "This is how we do it for pay."
The first star is because I didn't throw it across the room. The second star is because I like it enough to see what the second book holds, if my library has it (no way I'm paying a hold fee). Also because at least there's space for the story to grow, since I know there are sequels. I was surprised at the lack of romance; I've grown so used to woman-authored SF/F having to have that element that when it's not there, I'm... pleasantly astounded, I think. But waiting for it to show up later. Almost dreading it. In a way, I wish this had been a single, self-contained mystery. I see a lot of possible plotlines, none of which I've enjoyed in the past, so I'll go forward hoping for the best but not expecting too much. Again, it's less the writer than the genre and my cynicism. Had this been marketed more as mystery than urbanesque fantasy, I might be singing a different tune.
But only about the plot. The editing is still dire, and that's why this can't go any higher than two stars. I caught mistakes that my teachers wouldn't have let slide, and that I don't, either, whether I'm editing or beta-reading. This is not a first novel by an unknown quantity at a tiny press. Sagara should've been given better treatment, someone to work with her, who would catch the mistakes and polish the draft into a printable novel. Whoever is responsible, it's a sad way to create a distraction from an otherwise decent book.
[eta: I did go ahead and spoil myself, because I have a long TBR list. Yeah, probably not going to get invested in this series. Sorry, but since I can't bring myself to give a crap about (view spoiler)[either Severn or Nightshade, and find Nightshade downright creepy (hide spoiler)], continuing would be pointless.]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more