Jenre's Reviews > The Prayer Waltz

The Prayer Waltz by K.Z. Snow
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's review
Feb 24, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary, m-m, romance

I can always tell I'm going to like a book when it has me in tears on one page and snorting with laughter in the next. In fact it was this mix of quiet melancholy with genuinely sweet, funny moments which was this book's greatest appeal for me.

The story begins with our hero, Steven, entering a Catholic church in a small Minnesota town. He's travelled from Minneapolis to find out some answers about his former lover, Frank, who was an ex-Catholic priest and who had died a few months before the start of the story. Whilst in Prism Falls he meets Evan, who had known Frank whilst he was a serving priest in the town. Evan is grieving over the death of his son just over a year ago and the two men are drawn to one another in their shared knowledge of Frank and the grieving process. At first Steven is only interested in what Evan can tell him of Frank, but as they spend more time in each other's company he begins to become attracted to Evan's quiet, gentle nature.

One the things I liked about this novella was in the way that the narrative is used to show different elements of the two characters (or three characters if you include Frank, whose presence plays a large part in this book). Most of the story is from the 1st person point of view of Steven and we follow him as he searches for answers about his dead lover. Each time Steven thinks he's got a handle on Frank and his life in Prism Falls, he finds out another piece of information which shows how little he really knew of the man. However, the story doesn't stick to a 1st person narrative all the way through, we also get Evan's point of view told through both third person flashbacks and through the letters he writes to his dead son. I have to admit that I found the way that the narratives were mixed like this quite surprising at first, but also a very effective way of getting into Evan's head and understanding him as a character. This meant that the usual complaint of 1st person narratives in romance - that it's always difficult to understand the non-narrator hero - didn't apply in the case of this story and I found Evan to be just as sympathetic a character as Steven, and perhaps even more so.

Another part which worked well was in the developing affection of the two men. The story takes place over a few days and is structured in a wonderful cyclical fashion - ending at the same place it begins. This meant that I was able to compare the feelings of Steven for Evan, from the first appreciative glance, to how those feelings had grown by the end where appreciation was mingled with affection. In fact, the last image we are given of the two men left me with a delighted smile on my face. In contrast to the sadness of the theme of overcoming grief, the way that the men interact warmly and with humour was just wonderful. I was also surprised by the way that the relationship between the two men dominated the book over and above the slight mystery of Frank's life in the town. I can't say too much because I don't want to give away spoilers, but I thought the story would go one way and it went somewhere different entirely. This isn't a bad thing, just rather unexpected!

Although Frank was a priest, and the Catholic Church is featured in the story, religion itself isn't the main focus of the plot, except as a backdrop to understanding Frank. Instead the church is featured as part of the general prejudice of small town life and all the good and bad that comes with living in a small community. Here the book does not shy away from prejudice and homophobia, but it also doesn't dominate the story. Those readers who tend to avoid books with religious themes shouldn't be put off this book because Frank is an ex-priest as, in many ways, the key to his death is linked to his vocation and therefore becomes a rather necessary part of the plot. I never felt that I was being preached to but that the religious viewpoints in the book were balanced.

Overall, I found this novella to be a poignant look at overcoming grief. The tone of the book is tranquil and at times very sad, but that was contrasted with many positive, hopeful and light-hearted scenes so that I never felt bogged down or oppressed by the tone of the book. If you like gentle books which take you on an emotional journey and contain the development of a tender romance then this book is for you. I found it a thoroughly delightful read.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Rossy (new) - added it

Rossy Fantastic review, Jenre!

I wasn't sure about it before, but now i really want to read this book.

Jenre Thanks, Rossy :).

It really is a great book.

message 3: by ElaineY (new) - added it

ElaineY I'm interested to see how the author does the alternating 1st/3rd person telling. Great review, Jenre!
Bump. Bump.

Jenre Thanks, Elaine :).
The story is told mostly in the first person, but has the occsional sections in Evans third person POV. I thought it quite an unusual way of using narrative.

Eden Winters Wow, Jenre! What an amazing story. I truly loved it. My heart ached and tears sprung to my eyes. This was so beautifully written. I hope someday I can string worlds together so eloquently.

message 6: by Kaetrin (new) - added it

Kaetrin I'm putting it on my list. I take it that the book isn't particularly steamy?

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