I seem to have been reading quite a few coming-of-age novels lately. Coming of age with a twist or a touch of darkness. Maybe it had something to do with Halloween, as I tend to read more dark, Gothic stories around that time, or maybe I am rather attracted to darkness bwhahahaha.
Some months ago Amazon offered me a 2 months free trial for Kindle unlimited. I went for it and let me tell you I’ve found it disappointing. I assume I’ve had full access yet somehow I’ve only manage to download 1 book. Yup, you’ve read that correctly: from all the books available, only 1 book intrigued me and somehow I had reserves even about that one. Luckily I did strike gold and enjoyed the book more than I thought I will. I actually want to recommend it, that much I’ve like it! The book in question is a translation(yayyy): The Whaler by Ines Thorn, translated by Kate Northrop(4*).
<<“Poverty can make people self-centered” >>
The story is set mainly on the island of Sylt at at time of hardship and barren land that cannot be cultivated. At a time when man was pray to nature, when knowing your environment and making the most of the few available resources was compulsory if you wanted to survive. In the small community living on the island where relationships were forged for material gains that ultimately will assure ones survival, young, innocent Maren hopes to marry for love. But hidden secrets and upset spirits push Maren into the adventure of her life: a whaling expedition. This adventure is going to be the turning point in her life; it’ll force her to mature, to see life in a very different way and yes, will help her find true love.
I particularly loved how well nature is presented in this book. Starting with the descriptions of land and continuing with the elements: the storms and winds and the destruction nature can release upon us. The author does a great job in creating a brooding, dark atmosphere to accompany the story, it was almost as nature itself was a character of the book. I also enjoyed the whaling details, it was actually my first fiction centered around this practice. And even if rather stereotypical, I even managed to enjoyed the love story and felt was fitting for the overall narrative.
By chance I’ve stumbled upon a school resource about the whaling industry in US(If you are interested, it can be found here) I am not sure how similar to the German practice of the 18th century is, yet I really enjoyed watching this explanatory video: https://vimeo.com/34586186.
And now that at I am at it, you definitely must read the story of “he’s-at-homes “ –> http://lithub.com/there-once-was-a-dildo-in-nantucket/
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (3.5 *)
A peculiar coming of age, just as all of Miss Peregrine’s children. If you are into strange things happening, monsters; time loops, magic powers, ymbrynes, old strange photos and a lot of adventures, then this is the book for you. This novel has been on my Kindle for ages. We were booked to see the movie as part of a festival, but sadly we had to cancel due to a last minute trip. I’ve felt rather sorry to have had to cancel and that’s how I finally decided to read the book; but still hoping to see the movie, as I am quite curious now :p
The first half intrigued me quite a bit: starting with the strange circumstances surrounding Grandpa Portman’s death and continuing with the foreboding trip to the remote island. But once I’ve started to realize what was all about, my interest started to dwindle. And that’s mainly because, I believe, I am not the intended audience for this book. The story is nicely built, I did enjoy the magic/unusual elements, the plot and especially the photos(it was one of the rare occasions when I really wanted to have a physical copy of the book to be able to properly enjoy the old photos. They were rather small on my Kindle, and I couldn’t enlarge them :(), but I feel is more of a young adult type of book and not really for me. While I am slightly curious about the further development of the story, I am unsure I will ever read any other books in this series.
The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin * (3.5 *)
A dark, atmospheric novel. Victorian London with all the specific squalor, poverty, darkness. And in accordance with the background, a series of mysterious disappearances that our heroines set about solving. And in doing so, we have a coming of age and a blooming, even if slightly unusual, romance.
The book opens with Hester’s story. A young, somewhat educated orphan girl, forced to live in poverty, at the mercy of her family’s former gardener and his family. A coach accident gives her the chance to escape the poor conditions she was forced into; a chance she was arduously looking for to begin with. Calder’s mercy(or maybe I should say his wickedness) brings about the encounter between Hester and Rebekah, a crucial moment in the grand scheme of things. Can a young, uneducated, poor child’s mind be set in the rules of the society proving the Mendicity wrong? A societal experiment becomes an adventure, a truly detective like story peppered with danger, with disguises, with “helping” the enemy, and finishing with uncovering the culprits behind all the disappearances but also so many other layers just hinted at throughout the book.
A strong, intriguing beginning but a slow development where the book pretty much lost me, for then to pick up again towards the end. The story line is rather interesting and historically accurate or better said believable in the historical context. I particular liked Rebekah’s character. A strong, logical female character. Highly educated, friendly and just. Not shying away from danger and difficulties in order to help those she cares about. I’ve less enjoyed Hester, an insecure girl, prone to impulsive actions based on her insecurities. I could say this is in line with her age, and story wise it does make sense, but not enough to be likable, in my view! The happy end seems a bit forced, not really convincing, therefore another miss for me. And on top of that, I cannot really say I cared about the romance, even if I actually think it possible despite being rather unusual for the time. Overall a 3.5* from me, rather a promising debut and hopefully an interesting author who will deliver another nice story in the future.
*Book from NetGalley for an honest review