Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Mini-Review Roundup


  Mini-Review Roundup

Did I like this? Yes and no. 

The yes? I was engaged. I wanted to know what would happen next. I read through it pretty quickly as a result (this was definitely a "just one more chapter" kind of book for me). 

I love stories where you're unraveling past events and this book did a good job with that. The past (1930s) and further past (early 1900s) were well balanced and I didn't have a favorite. They felt different and "of their time." I was satisfied with the Big Reveal (though not astounded) and very happy with the ending. I also liked the time spent in the house and on the property (I love "house" books).

The no? The characters were all just okay. The whole book focuses on post-partum depression and the author did a truly excellent job conveying the impact something like this has on the individual and the family. That is a good thing (so a mark in the "yes"), but it was a hard thing to read about (so a mark in the "no").  All of the goods were solid goods, but none of them really wowed me. I decided not to keep my beautiful hardcover and I imagine in a few years I'll see the book and think, "What was that about again?" and shrug. It's good, I'm glad I read it, but it isn't The One for me.

This is definitely a book written in the 1990s. Thankfully I went into it with those expectations and so everything was fine. I was even pleasantly surprised. I also haven't read the previous books in the series and that wasn't a problem at all (though I probably got some spoilers for those earlier books, which I don't plan on reading). 

So what do I mean by "written in the 1990s?" It's short. A lot of things get wrapped up very quickly and the characters don't have a ton of depth or backstory. And that's fine. If I know to expect this, I actually am just fine with this easy-breezy approach. I got a quick story with characters that, even though they didn't have a ton of depth and nuance, were easy to understand and feel for. Some I felt annoyance, some hatred, some sympathy, and some liking. But I did feel for them. The male lead was no someone I liked very much, but the female lead was and I liked her character arc and romance.

The shortness of it all also meant that the author didn't so much paint a picture of the time and place but rather info-dumped and factoid-packed to give a sense of the setting. And, again, that works for me. There was a lot in there. This approach meant that while I might not have felt like I was living and breathing in the era, it did make me feel like I came away from the book with a good sense of history. I liked it.


I liked it. I didn't love it. I could have almost loved it, but there were a few elements I was looking for that weren't there. Namely, I wanted the relationship between the main character and the dragon to be one of those warm fuzzy bonding friendships and it just never got there. It's not in the dragon's nature. Ok, fine. I accept that, but that would have been the key to making this book a Favorite and not just a solid like. 

Anyway, it is what it is, and what it is is a murder mystery set in a "medieval fantasy village." There's the usual cast of characters, and for the most part I liked them. The main character is likable and tropish (think Geralt in The Witcher but less growly), but I consider that a good thing. The mystery was paced well, and though I never found it gripping, I did find it an enjoyable stroll. I liked it enough that I plan on reading the next book, but I wasn't in love enough that I need to read the next book right now. This ends pretty well as a standalone anyway with a promise of "future adventures" but a completion to this current adventure.

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