Alyssa Archambo's Reviews > The Orphanmaster

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman
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Jun 12, 12

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bookshelves: historical-fiction, mystery, romance
Read from May 15 to June 05, 2012

The best thing about The Orphanmaster is its historical detail. Zimmerman does an excellent job of setting the scene and integrating issues and concerns the colonists had during that time. The legend of the witika was delightfully horrific, and I enjoyed reading about it. This story has lots of drama to keep the reader entertained. Though the first half is a bit slow, the second half really picks up and it is simply a race to the end. I will say that this is not for everyone, as it is rather graphic. Some of the violence and gruesome details were unnecessary, I think, and only used for shock value, which I dislike, but most of it fits in with the mystery of the orphan disappearances in the colony.

In terms of characters, Blandine was my absolute favorite. She is so strong character and really stands on her own. Though there are men in her life who help her, she doesn't lean on them and she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself. I really appreciated that and was rooting for her to overcome the patriarchal and suspicious society she lives in.

For all of its detail, I do think that the history overshadows the story. I think some of the setting could have been cut to make room for more plot and character development that would have added a richness to both. As it was, I didn't feel connected to any of them except for Blandine. Even then, I only really connected with her because she's a strong female character dealing with the ideals and prejudices of people living in the seventeenth century. And for a mystery, there wasn't much suspense. It's just sort of life-as-usual with the kidnappings in the background, when they should have been the focus of the story. Also, once enough information is given about the people in the town, it is obvious who the killer is. The characters take a lot longer to figure it out, which was frustrating for me.

I enjoyed the story overall, however. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy how effortlessly Zimmerman transports the reader to another time and place, and fans of mystery will enjoy the legend of the witika and the completely psychotic murderer.

*I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*
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