Ciao, amici! I have two reviews for you today, and the offerings couldn’t be more different. Because I have more than one, let me get right to business.
Impossible to Pick a Favorite
Talk about a journey to worlds beyond the borders of imagination. Mae Clair pens a collection of mystical, magical tales that catapult the reader to realms never conceived of, yet they’re intimately familiar. It’s so easy to see yourself walking in these lands and talking with the characters—probably because her writing is so vivid and powerful, you can’t help but be drawn into her work.
Clair possesses a rare ability to craft beautiful sentences without crossing the line to purple prose. Her plots are intricate yet never convoluted or contrived. And her characters are always rich and three dimensional.
This collection of stories boasts several pieces that resonate with me. Some are light-hearted, others are more serious in nature, but all make an impact. Of particular note (to me) are Robin of Sherwood, Desert White, Miss Lily Makes a Wish, and I’ve Got a Plan, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t call attention to Father’s Day, a story that touched my heart and I know I’ll never forget.
I’m certain there’s a story in this collection for any reader, and I hope everyone gives Things Old and Forgotten a chance. It’s an easy five-star recommendation from me.
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare
I’ve got a list of fears. Some are rational, others aren’t. The main character in this book lived through a bunch of mine. And while I won’t make you sit through all my anxieties, I’ll tell you where we end up—stuck in the middle of the ocean with no means of escape while a serial killer is after the protagonist’s children.
I can’t think of a worse situation for a mother.
Here’s the thing. The clues drop in the order you expect. Key word: expect. I pretty much saw how this whole thing was going to unfold, including the ending that was supposed to be a big surprise. When the first clue to that surprise was discreetly laid (where most people wouldn’t have noticed it), I thought to myself, “I hope this isn’t what I think it is. Because, no. Just… NO.”
I can’t say more without ruining the surprise for people, and I don’t believe in reviews with spoilers, but I’ve love to talk to the author(s). Because they got something very wrong in character motivation. And I’ll argue that point to my dying breath.
Other than that one point that really bugs me, the book is well-written. It’s definitely plot-driven rather than character-driven. I prefer the latter, but that’s a personal choice, and I wouldn’t take points off for that.
So, I’m torn how to mark this one. It was an easy read and moves at a decent pace. I found it predictable, though I suspect many people would be surprised by some of the plotting, particularly the end. I reject the motivation, though I don’t know if everyone would. Clearly the authors didn’t. I’m going to give this a four, knowing people will enjoy the story for the pleasure of it. Most readers won’t be agonizing over a rating or character motivation as much as I am.
So, there you have it. Two of the things I’ve read recently. A collection that blew me away for all the right reasons, and a novel that blew my mind for one very bad reason… but it still pulled off a decent story.
I don’t know. What do you do when you’re on the fence about how to review a novel? Have you ever had this problem? How did you handle it?
Have you read either of these? Let’s talk about it. Saluti!