This book was very amateurish in its writing style. I think Katherine Howe must have gotten an A+ in the class How to End a Chapter. But she would getThis book was very amateurish in its writing style. I think Katherine Howe must have gotten an A+ in the class How to End a Chapter. But she would get so lost in her Interludes and change of perspective that when she finally came back to that particular portion of the story line, I really didn't care or even remember that there was an intended element of suspense.
Katherine Howe attempted to combine Jane Austin-ish/Downton Abby-ish/Dan Brown-ish styles, and it just fell completely flat. It was a snooze fest rather than a suspenseful page turner.
I really thought I would like it since I REALLY LOVED the other book I read, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. A lot of people have been complaining on here about the reviews that make this comparison, but seriously, this book feels like a book she wrote first and shopped around but could not sell. Then she wrote Deliverance Dane, which was a smashing hit and this was subsequently published, just based on her name and fame.
Besides the college writing class pacing of the book, the characters were very underdeveloped and their relationships with one another seemed so surface and vague. I really do believe they should have been fleshed out more and blame the poor state of "editing" these days. It is really much more like "proof-reading" than giving considered feedback about the readability of a book. It seems that once a person has had a few best-sellers, they even dispense with checking the spelling anymore.
(To be fair, I had just finished Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, a five-star book by a master story teller. So maybe I would have given this another star if I had read it first.)
PS I thought at one point that if one of the characters "knitted their fingers together" one more time, I was going to throw up. So as if on cue, they started "knotting their fingers together". Oh that's much better, Katherine....more
The Chalice of Blood is the first book I have read in the Sister Fidelma series and there are so many that came before! It won't be my last. I like thThe Chalice of Blood is the first book I have read in the Sister Fidelma series and there are so many that came before! It won't be my last. I like the way Tremayne writes the character of Sister Fidelma. Some Goodreads reviewers seem very annoyed or put off by her, but I kept thinking about the TV series "Bones". Sister Fidelma is like Bones, logical and focused while she is putting the puzzle pieces of the mystery together. When she is annoyed by something or someone, she has very good reason for it.
The story developed very slowly, but about 2/3 into it, things really started to happen and I was very engaged and could not put it down. Did I ever enjoy this book!
Within the structure of a mystery novel, it describes the history of books and their treasured status when they were so hard to come by and painstakingly produced. The story surrounds the work of Celsus, The True Word, a book that no longer exists, except as excerpts in Origen's volume refuting Celsus' premise that Christians are ridiculous. (You can tell by the subtle twinkle in Fidelma's eye that she maybe thinks that Celsus was right.) This "heretical" book and so many others were systematically destroyed by the Church. The time period of The Chalice of Blood shows the 7th century transition of the Catholic church with its acceptance of local customs, to the Roman influence and extremism which completely redefined the Church. Discourse and debate were squelched, and it is staggering the amount of wisdom and thought that has been suppressed. Books that are gone forever.
I feel so fortunate to have such effortless and inexhaustible access to writers and their words. I am always very interested to find and read "banned books". I made a conscious decision to encourage my son to read whatever he wanted and when he asked to read Papillon when he was in the fourth grade, I let him and told him to come to me if he had any questions. Boy did he have questions! "Mom, what's an anus?...Oh so that's where he hid his money!"
I can see how conservative Catholics may read this book and be put off by the centrist perspective as it pertains to the historical influence of the Catholic church. But the book may broaden the mind and make one question the politics of how things were decided and defined as the church went forward, and ponder how different things would be if another direction had been chosen. I think if you like the new pope, Pope Francis, you will probably like this book. ...more