This was another advanced review copy I have received in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book weird. It was quite unusual, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I wasn’t impressed by it. The beginning seemed quite promising, it was set in the late 1800s-early 1900s, and was showing the mean streets of Dublin, and the lives of a carriage driver and seamstress for a theatre. It was interesting. And then things started going downhill as things became bizarre. The end did improve, but it did too little to save the book.
As I’ve said I enjoyed the beginning of the book. There was intrigue, and then coming to Dublin was fascinating. I found it well written, and I think I would have been happier if that was just the story. But that wasn’t really the story at all. The story revolves around a group of people, mainly Vincent and Cornelius, who have managed to trap an Angel in their basement, which has granted them and all the others in the village immortality. So far so good. But the angel is weakening over time, and they need to feed it, and they want to put on a spectacle, which will enable the angel to feed off the audiences amazement. So they head to the big city, Dublin, in search for some stars.
We come to Dublin, and we now follow Joe who is a young carriage driver, who is well and truly in love with Tina, who is also in love with him. But of course, they both haven’t told one another about their love, or their plans for the future they have been saving up for. Without any surprise at all, it takes about half the book and for Joe to ‘die’ and come back to life for them to finally tell one another. Anyway, Vincent becomes under the impression that Joe is their long lost son, Matthew, and constantly tries to get him to come home with him. While Tina shows to have some supernatural ability with seances, and catches Cornelius’ eye, wanting to communicate with the angel.
And so they all end up going with the pair to their house and the angel, and here is where I started to become disinterested. Things become weird and convoluted. There’s evil sadistic children who want to torture and kill people. There’s Raquel who carries around a doll now because that’s her ‘good child’. The angel is longing for something he’s lost. Then there’s ‘the devil’ or ‘Contagion’ in the lake. It all becomes too much for me. I get that this is a fantasy novel, but the idea was just a bit weak, and wasn’t that engaging or thought-provoking. And it became confusing. Too many times I was reading, and then became lost in what was going on. Characters seemed to be doing things which didn’t make sense, cause I thought they were doing one thing, but then they were elsewhere a little. And it felt like a lot of repetition and things became inconsistent. One moment Cornelius is trying to please Tina, then next she’s controlling him, then attacking her, it’s all too confusing.
I did find the use of the second person narration quite interesting, and have always wanted to read something in it, even if in this instance it perhaps wasn’t pure second person. But I think that these parts made more sense than some of the other parts.
Coming closer and closer to the end I did start to regain interest, as information about the ‘contagion’ was brought to light. As soon as they started exploring the lake, I find myself enjoying things more, and being able to follow more easily. And the culmination of events with Joe’s cousins coming to attack him (though unlikely cause how on earth did they find him) made things certainly exciting. But the overaching idea of these angels trying to contain the chaos of the contagion, felt too much, and overcomplex. It wasn’t well executed.
Overall, the book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. The middle section felt too underdone, and could have been tightened up considerably. Taking just the beginning and end into consideration, I quite enjoyed it and found it interesting. But the middle just bored me and left me too confused despite following what was happening, it didn’t make sense.