Author: Eve Bunting
Genre: Historical YA
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year of Publication: 2015
Main Character: Josie—(3/5) Josie was a little naïve, but what she lacked in intuition, she made up for in bravery. Although Josie picked up that something was off about her new home, she was oblivious to the clues that are obvious to readers.
Secondary Characters: None of the secondary characters were very engaging or interesting, but they each served their function within the story quite well.
Pacing: The pacing on this one is difficult to explain. The story itself was set at an anxious pace, the plot moving along hurriedly and unceremoniously. Within the scenes themselves, the narrative would sometimes drag. You’d have to read it to understand.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: The synopsis was dead on, though the narrative was lackluster in comparison.
Resolution: This was hands down the best part of the book. The last major scene resulted in embarrassing laughter and vindictive cheering on my part. And I am not ashamed.
The Good: The setting, particularly Bunting’s description of it, was very well conveyed and made the story seem tangible. One of the odd points was that the overall timeline of the book moved rapidly, although the narrative within each scene felt drawn out. Overall, this book had an interesting concept that I haven’t read before. The combination of supernatural elements with historical fiction was surprisingly delightful and original.
The Not So Good: On the whole, the plot was underdeveloped and failed to live up to the excitement and mystery promised by the synopsis. The story, which takes place in a mere forty-eight hours, was set at a rapid pace, which was offset by the lengthy descriptions that interrupted scenes frequently. This all would have been fine by me had I felt that Bunting had brought the story to its full potential. However, how much character development can be done in just two hundred pages over the span of two days? The love interest aspect was downright neglected. Eli and Josie only met maybe two or three times. Perhaps Josie’s constant thoughts of Eli were supposed to make him seem more present? But fantasy and worries are no replacement for scenes and real interaction. To be in love with someone you just met yesterday is a little farfetched for even a YA fantasy book.
Overall Impression: I had hoped this book would be a mysterious, action-packed quick read. For me, only one of those points was truly met. If Bunting had slowed down and given the plot its due, this could have been a fairly good novel.
Would I recommend it? I probably wouldn’t recommend this one. Not because it was poorly written or a bad story, but because it felt like an outline rather than a published book. Nevertheless, it’s well suited to anyone who loves to read, but doesn’t have much time.