Patrick's Reviews > The Black Isle

The Black Isle by Sandi Tan
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's review
Jul 26, 12

it was amazing
Read from July 20 to 25, 2012

What first intrigued me about this book is its paranormal element. I don’t often read much historical fiction unless it either comes highly recommended or the defined plot is irresistibly alluring – choosing Sandi Tan’s debut novel presented the latter element.

I’m amazed by how deeply I was absorbed in a novel which considered such a range of topics I’ve never deliberately explored. To be engrossed by Cassandra’s haunting past and seized by events rooted in Asian culture verifies the author’s skillfulness in liberating a history which is regularly silenced. The experience of reading this book was both enjoyable and educational – a balance that is cherished for its infrequency.

The Black Isle tells a story brought to life by dimensional characters, a vivid setting, and the author’s honed craft of careful and deliberate writing. The metaphors that are delicately weaved throughout the novel work to enhance the reality of Cassandra’s burdensome endeavors as she struggles to accept who she becomes during evolving situations. Tan’s characters are unquestionably complex; absolutely every character she introduces is not who they initially appear to be. The author carefully introduces taboo subjects without relieving the reader’s comfort.

What concerned me throughout the book was the resigned attitude of the main character; during circumstances which permitted, even invited her retaliation, Cassandra stood resolute and passive. In her past she has amply proven that she takes pleasure in speaking her mind, but as she grows old and submits to her age she represses her own ability to be heard and readily ceases to exercise her opinion to those who are in dire need of a wake up call. Rather than her ability to see and speak to ghosts, it becomes apparent that she is actually cursed by her reserved silence. Nonetheless, Cassandra is a strong character. She may not flaunt an unfettered courage or brute strength, but her ability to endure in the most hopeless situations is unparalleled.

In The Black Isle, the reader will quickly become entranced by Cassandra’s somber and sagacious tale as they too gradually fail to resist the ghosts that haunt them.

Rating: ★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)
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