kris's Reviews > In the Shadow of the Lamp

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
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Apr 18, 12

Read in April, 2012

In the Shadow of the Lamp focuses on a teen-aged nurse who travels with Florence Nightingale during the Crimea War. While I'm very interested in this time period and will be seeking it out in literature more often, I had a few problems with In the Shadow of the Lamp.

A) First person POV - This probably stood out so much due to recent conversations about the prevalence of first person POV in young adult fiction and how often that POV doesn't work. First person POV doesn't work so well in this book; the lack of outside perspective makes it difficult to see what Will and Dr. Maclean see in her, which makes the (requisite) love triangle that much more unbelievable.

B) the love triangle - I liked Will from the get-go, so seeing him get pushed aside for the possibility of a romance with Dr. Maclean was difficult. SHE NEVER REFERS TO HIM BY HIS FIRST NAME, EITHER. (This, I recognize, is more of a personal peeve than anything else, but if you can't even refer to someone by their given name in your own head, then this romance isn't for you!) The entire end of the novel really didn't help matters either. I mean, (view spoiler) I liked both characters and their relationship with Molly, but both didn't belong in this novel. Full stop.

C) The half-assed paranormal aspects - At about 75% of the way through In the Shadow of the Lamp, Molly hears disembodied voices! And later, there's a ghost! And these things aren't bad, per say, but they're tossed in the last quarter of this book, which makes them super ridiculous. If you're going to put your narrator "in touch" with the other side, make sure you establish that early on, instead of relying on it as a climax-enhancing plot element. Doesn't work that way.

D) The lack of continuity - Near the climax of the novel, the narrator falls wrong on her wrist and says she hears something snap...and it's never mentioned again! In fact, (view spoiler) JUST. HOW.

E) Florence Nightingale - Flo Nightingale is a BAMF. She was a no-nonsense, get-shit-done kind of woman in Victorian England. She revolutionized the way nursing was viewed, and was responsible for organizing the majority of the medical aid given to the wounded of the Crimean War. And while the narration begins to hint at some of these depths, there's so much more that could have been said about what she got done.
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