Copy obtained through local public library. I don't know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.
I began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, but only got a few pages into it before being interrupted. I set it aside, then went back and started over when I was sure I would have more time. By page 103 of 385, I knew the struggle wasn't going to be worth it. I always think it's my fault that a book isn't working, so I checked out some of the other reviews -- I almost never read reviews before I read the book -- and found I wasn't alone.
No spoilers here, because I didn't finish the book and I'm not likely to.
Towner Whitney, whose real name is Sophya, comes back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years in California. Her grandmother/great-aunt Eva has disappeared. I think Towner was raised by Eva, but I'm not sure. Towner admits she lies a lot, and also that she doesn't remember things well because she had a nervous breakdown after her sister Lyndley died.
I think Towner's mother is May, who lives on a little island and rescues abused women and their children, but the family relationships aren't really clear. Auntie Emma is Eva's daughter, I think, but again I'm not sure. Beezer is Towner's brother.
Quirky characters are great if you can keep them straight and each becomes a real person. None of these people did, not even Towner. Her quirks were too inconsistent, too unexplained. She can read people's minds and she hears voices -- especially Eva's and Lyndley's -- and she can read lace (it's kind of like reading tea leaves or some such) but there doesn't seem to be any purpose to it.
Towner dwells on her mental illness but doesn't really seem to care very much about it. She doesn't have any direction or motivation or even any emotion. And yet I got the impression that she wanted people around her to care about her. I'm not sure that that's the impression author Brunonia Barry intended to convey, but it's the one I got.
As a result, I just didn't like Towner, and it's difficult for me to continue to read a book when I don't give a shit about the main character.
The book is well written in the technical sense, and I'm assuming the details of Salem and its environs are accurate, but everything fell flat for me. It's like a book that a bunch of ladies read for their Tuesday afternoon book club, and they all think it's wonderful and deep and literary and quirky, but they really don't understand it and aren't sure they even like it. They read it to impress their friends. The sexy parts embarrass them -- though to be honest, I hadn't encountered any really sexy parts in the first 103 pages -- or horrify them, but for the most part they really don't understand the sexy parts. They read books like this because it makes them feel somehow superior, even though as soon as they reach the end and move on to the next book, this one is forgotten.
I'll probably forget it, too.
Also posted at
and I may expand it there.