I hope all of you had a great 4th of July! I sure did, despite what’s been happening in the the country lately. I got to spend time with friends and family, eat some delicious food, slip on an inflatable water slide!
I also started some new books! Before I show you what those titles are, I want to let you all know that from the last chapter, I’m still reading No-Mod: Book 1 of the Mute-Cat Chronicles by Derek Porterfield and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. With the latter, I’ve read 490 pages so far, so if anyone betted that I would give up between 260 and 490, they lost.
Now, onto the new books!
I Let You Fall: A Romantic Drama by Sara Downing is about a woman trying to connect with her loved ones after a terrible accident. On a summer night, art teacher Eve Chapman witnesses a surgery of a patient with a horrific head injury. She’s even more shocked to find out that it’s her own body on the operating table. Trapped in a coma, Eve struggles to communicate with her family and friends because they can’t see nor hear her. But then, she meets Luca Diaz, a handsome and comatose lawyer who can see her. He teaches her to use her new abilities to comfort the living. Weeks go by, and Eve desperately tries to find a way back to her body and to Nathan, the man she loves. However, the more time she spends with Luca, the more she doubts about returning to her old life.
I like the book so far. Eve is a likeable character, and I really want her to emerge from her coma. At the same time, it’s a little hard to get emotionally invested when the main character is comatose. Talk about being passive, eh? I’m sure Downing expected this, for she includes flashbacks prior to the accident, so readers can see what Eve and her relationships were like before her current state. I’m at the point where Luca is showing her the ropes of using her special gifts to comfort the living. I like Luca. He’s a nice and thoughtful guy, and I see why she might have feelings for him despite her love for the sophisticated, but unreliable Nathan. At the same time, I hope he’s more than a Maniac Pixie Dream Boy. We’ll see what happens as I continue to read it.
Now, let’s move onto another story that involves reconnecting with loved ones!
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline is a story inspired by the traditional Métis tale of the Rogarou – a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities. Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for nearly a year after they had their first serious argument. One day, when she’s hungover in a Walmart parking lot in Georgian Bay, she’s drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been going to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff (hmm that’s not suspicious at all). She comes in when the service over. But as she’s about to leave, she hears an unmistakeable voice. It’s Victor! The same face, same eyes, same hands. However, he has has short hair and wears a suit. On top of that, he doesn’t know who Joan is. In fact, he thinks she’s delusional and insists that he’s the Reverend Wolff and his mission is to bring people to Jesus. Except, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing. With the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with a knowledge of the old ways, and Zeus, her 12-year-old-Johnny-Cash-loving nephew, Joan must find a way to remind Reverend Wolff of who he is if he’s really Victor.
I find the premise to the extremely interesting and want to root for Joan to find her husband. Also, it makes me want to look into the original Rogarou tale and other stories that the Métis have. At the same time, it’s slowly paced, yet it has been picking up once she first encounters the wolf (the reverend I mean).
In addition, by looking at the blurb, certain readers might think that all of the interesting stuff happens in the first 20-30 pages. While I can see an issue with this (Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein has a similar one), it seems that there’s more to come judging by how the book’s unfolding.
Finally, let’s transition from one woman trying to find her husband and repair her marriage to a woman trying to leave an abusive one.
Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is about a young Puritan woman who’s trying to leave her cruel husband. Mary Deerfield is 24 years old and beautiful. In England, she would’ve gotten a lot of suitors, but in 1662 Boston, she’s the second wife of Thomas Deerfield – an abusive and powerful man. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, purposely drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary’s hand, she believes that enough is enough and that she must divorce him to save her life. However, in a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary – a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the hypocrisy of so many men in the colony – soon finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in the ground, when a boy whom Mary has been treating with herbs and simple dies, and when the boy’s sister – a servant in the Deerfield household – runs out of the home screaming, Mary must not only escapes her marriage, but also the gallows.
To prepare for this book, I watched this video.
I like this one as well. Much like Bohjalian’s other female protagonists, Mary is a three-dimensional character with desires, but she is forced by the Puritan society to maintain her duty as a wife despite the circumstances. In a way, Mary reminds me of Cassie from The Flight Attendant. Even though Mary is a more respectable person, both are trying to clear their names from crimes they didn’t commit. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bohjalian made that decision after the success of the first season of The Flight Attendant television show.
In addition, I enjoy the world building. Since the book takes place in the Puritan Massachusetts colony, it constantly reminds readers of the values that they held dear as a community like moral and religious earnestness as well as predestination. This context aides them in understanding why the characters would’ve had major concerns over Mary’s attempt to divorce her husband. Also, it doesn’t help that accusations of witchcraft were becoming prevalent when the novel begins.
Another thing that I want to note is how the book, so far, is structured like the Greek play Antigone. I’m only in the first third, yet I noticed how a good chunk of it involves lot of exposition. Then, after Mary leaves her husband, a bunch of people come to her parents’ home and beg her to reconsider. This reminded me of how the characters in Antigone like the advisors and the son Haemon tell Creon that he should change his mind and bury Antigone’s brother Polynices who fought against Thebes. I hope there’s more to it than that.
I’m listening to the audiobook now, and it’s good. Grace Experience narrates it along with a full cast although the latter are relegated to reading official documents, and they do an effective job in embodying the main characters while sounding accurate to the Puritan era. That’s why I’m not listing everyone who’s on the audiobook as of now. In addition, I don’t know if those records are real or made up for the story; I’ll have to do more research. Experience (Bohjalian’s daughter) needs no introduction as she did part of the narration for The Flight Attendant. She blends a contemporary and period voice well. At first, I wasn’t sure about this take because it felt a little too modern, but I realized that she’s portraying a third-person narrator. This gives more leeway in how she interprets the story. My only complaint is that a lot of the characters sound similar, but it’s still a solid performance.
We have now come to the end of the thirty-fifth chapter of “What Am I Reading?”
But, before I go, I want to let you know that I will be seeing the movie version of “Where the Crawdads Sing” this coming week! Stay tuned for the review! In the meantime, go check out my evaluation of the book!
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