I have to break down my somewhat middle of the road rating. Plot was a good 4 (although it went shaky at the end), the characters slid back and forthI have to break down my somewhat middle of the road rating. Plot was a good 4 (although it went shaky at the end), the characters slid back and forth between a 3 and 4, but the writing was a sad, sad 2.
I really wanted to give this a higher rating, because it was written by a fellow Texas lawyer, and I want to support that. It definitely had some good points; the plot was interesting, although it ended up being tied up with a little too neat of a bow on the end. The legal writing and court room scenes were, for once, very accurate. But the accuracy went a bit too far when the writing went from informative to textbook lecturing. And the author was so set on giving a sense of place that sometimes his descriptions read more like GPS directions. "Turn on 21st street. Pass X restaurant and Y house. Arrive at your destination, Motel, in half a mile." I get it, you have spent real time in Houston and Galveston, but I don't need to know every block of it to appreciation the authenticity.
He has done an admirable amount of research and poured real life detail into his story, but he needed to be reminded to show, not tell. I don't need to read every single fact that he knows to believe that he's accurate. I really need for him to get a decent editor who will instruct him that sometimes, less is more.
However, on a final note, I cannot speak highly enough about how well he handles the issue of the mentally ill in our criminal justice system. That is a heartbreaker, and for his adept handling of the subject matter, the book was worth the read for that itself. ...more
If Elizabeth Gilbert had written the much loved Rascal Flatts song, it would have gone "God bless the broken road/that lead me straight to another broIf Elizabeth Gilbert had written the much loved Rascal Flatts song, it would have gone "God bless the broken road/that lead me straight to another broken road/then into a dead end, and/finally over a cliff/Also, everyone dies."
It's a well-written book, I can't deny that, and I'm not trying to. And it was interesting, although bleak and, I thought, self-indulgent. It was a lot of "poor little rich girl" whining, and while I don't deny that what she went through would be emotionally stressful, there is more to life than sitting in a pool of self-pity...and moss. ...more
Well, what can I say. It was well-written, meticulously researched, exactingly plotted. I wanted desperately to feel engaged by it, but I never seemedWell, what can I say. It was well-written, meticulously researched, exactingly plotted. I wanted desperately to feel engaged by it, but I never seemed to really connect to anyone. A re-read might help answer some of the questions, in case I missed something, but I don't think I care enough to try it again.
For instance, I knew the minute that (view spoiler)[Ian (hide spoiler)] was mentioned that he was (view spoiler)[Gideon (hide spoiler)]; it was so incredibly obvious to me that I couldn't believe Elizabeth didn't see it. I also thought it was a little odd that she spends centuries running and changing her first name, but in every reality she appears to be a doctor/healer of some kind, and she seems to keep the last name Hawksmith. Really? Because he's never, ever going to connection Bess Hawksmith to Eliza Hawksmith to Elise Hawksmith, when you stay in the roughly the same areas and do EXACTLY THE SAME THING? I am not impressed with your witness protection skills. Tell me he find Katie Warren as a blacksmith in Moscow, and I'll be a little more impressed.
Also, my understanding from the transformation scene early in Bess's story that she embraced the "dark arts," and that there was a very literal deal with the devil involved for her immortality. Unless Gideon was the only one who made the sacrifice and it didn't affect her (which was not the impression I got), then how was she able to embrace the Wiccan/good witch power later? If her power was dark arts power, how was it healing? And if it wasn't evil, why did she always refer to it as the "dark arts"? Etc, etc, etc....the boundaries of what she was doing and what her powers were, and the sources of those powers, never made sense to me. Again, I'm open to the idea that I mis-read or misunderstood parts, but the problem for me is, I don't care enough to go back and figure it out. The disconnect stayed to the very end, and I remain feeling disconnected and unimpressed....more
I have a love/hate relationships with books that have a massive twist that the end, which make me want to go back and read th(Real rating, 3.5 stars.)
I have a love/hate relationships with books that have a massive twist that the end, which make me want to go back and read the whole thing again, with the end in mind. Having read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dance, I thought I had a handle on what kind of twists and plot devices to expect, but turns out, I was wrong. I got a very big shock at the end when it turned out that the prism I had been viewing the entire book through was completely wrong. It put me in the position of realizing that I'd been following the path of a semi-unreliable narrator, without either of us knowing it. On the one hand, well played, Howe! On the other...now I have to read the whole thing again to figure out where we went wrong.
Having read Physick first helped a lot going into this, because I knew what to expect in terms of how Howe treats supernatural events. I did like her first book better; I felt like it had a better flow and more movement, while the action in this one is largely internal. It's a different book, with much more hinted at or glimpsed in corners than directly stated. It takes some getting used to, a kind of shift in your to go "Oh, this means THAT." It drove me crazy for a bit, but eventually I caught on to it.
One final note, that having my heroine slowly move toward (view spoiler)[opium addiction (hide spoiler)] while dealing with (view spoiler)[an eating disorder (hide spoiler)] was very uncomfortable for me. It was handled tastefully and wasn't glorified, but it still kind of twisted my stomach. I was glad to see it resolved at the end, even though the epilogue did feel a little tacked on to provide the (relatively) happy endings....more
This, right here, demonstrated to me why Agatha Christie is still considered the mistress of the mystery. I spent the entire book on the proverbial edThis, right here, demonstrated to me why Agatha Christie is still considered the mistress of the mystery. I spent the entire book on the proverbial edge of my seat, and I still never guessed what was coming. Every time I thought I had it figured out, oops! Plot twist! By the end I thought I had finally seen through all the smoke screens and was smugly assured that I had figured out who the secret adversary was. It was all so obvious, the hints dropped so clearly along the way, that I was sure I'd seen through Christie's machinations. She was good, but no match for a modern, sophisticated reader like me.
I was blown away by the final reveal, but not in a "surprise, the butler did it" kind of way. She had masterfully twisted me so around that I fell right into the trap, along with the Young Adventurers (at least for a time--they got out of it before I did). The only nit that I have is that some of the dialog felt rather forced, especially Julius's, as the token American. He was so broadly drawn for awhile, his language so over the top, that it got under my skin after a bit. It felt like an American author putting in a random Australian character who goes around saying "G'day, mate!" and "Shrimp on the barbie!" all the time. Just...no.
But, that being said, I will definitely be hunting up the further adventures of Tommy and Tuppence, and I'm sure that Christie will keep surprising me. ...more
I recognize that dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction is very "in" right now, with The Hunger Games and Divergent series. This was not either of those;I recognize that dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction is very "in" right now, with The Hunger Games and Divergent series. This was not either of those; it wasn't as well written and the characters definitely weren't as rich. But, I love the genre and the I loved the world, so I'll let that slide for now. I hope to see more character development as we go forward; Thomas in particular seemed like the cardboard cut out of the "good guy," and I really would like to see him grow and mature. Maybe the flatness of the personalities was a purposeful choice of the author, since our memories, to some extent, make us who we are. If you take out the nurture and all you have left is nature, by definition, and that's going to fall a little flat.
Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But it's the first book in a series, so I'm prepared to give him some slack while I wait to see where we go from here. ...more
I loved The Yard and hated The Black Country, so I approached this third book in the series with trepidation. I've seen the author create an incrediblI loved The Yard and hated The Black Country, so I approached this third book in the series with trepidation. I've seen the author create an incredible work, and I've also seen him descend into incoherent crap. Which one, which one?
I was very, very pleased that The Devil's Workshop was a return to form, and I can treat Black Country/I> as an aberration. As I'm collecting the series, I may not even buy it, unless something that happened in it turns out to be important later. Other than a reference to Hammersmith's mounting injuries and brushes with death, nothing in it seems to matter here, and Devil's Workship could (nearly) pass as the direct sequel to The Yard.
Enough with the comparisons. Devil's Workshop moved along at a steady, brisk pace, with hardly any pauses for breath. There seemed to be two main plot lines at first, and I wasn't sure how they were going to weave together, which made the book seem like it was splitting its energies too much at a first. When I looked down and realized that I was at the half way point, I was shocked. There was a lot of momentum, but it didn't seem to be going anywhere, at least not in time to make the book make sense.
Then suddenly, everything clicked into place together, and the plot went from a brisk pace to a mad gallup, leaving you careening to the end and final confrontation(s). I will say that there some descriptions of death and dismemberment there at the end that turned even my stomach. And the end is not truly the end--the author tees us up perfectly for his next book, The Harvest Man, which I will now be waiting for with bated breath....more