Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review: THE LITTLE RED WOLF

Title: The Little Red Wolf
Author: Amelie Flechais
Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors
Pages: 80








The Little Red Wolf by Amelie Flechais turns the familiar story of Little Red Riding Hood, the one we grew up with, the one that reinforced our mistrust of the Stranger as somebody to be wary of, against itself.

In this retelling, it is the Little Red Wolf who is naïve and innocent, and the Hunter and his Daughter, as blonde as in the original Little Red Riding Hood, who are the predators. They are cruel, even though they appear nice.

The Little Red Wolf is sent by his mother with a little basket containing a rabbit to his grandmother’s. Grandma is old and cannot hunt, hence, the gift. But Mother tries her best to warn the Little Red Wolf about the dangers lurking in the forest, the hunter and his daughter who prey on little wolves like him.

And so, Little Red Wolf sets out. At first, he is careful, but by and by, he forgets his mother’s warning. Hungry, he eats the rabbit, bit by bit. When it is gone, he is upset at the thought of what his mother will say to him. 

Caught at his most vulnerable, he is befriended by a young blonde girl, who tells him not to worry. She has a lot of rabbits at home and he is welcome to take one of them to his grandmother.

Things take a sinister turn for him, predictably for us. What will happen to Little Red Wolf? Will anyone heed his cries for help? Or will it be his little head mounted on the wall of the hunter’s cabin?


La Niña and El Niño enjoy it when I read to them, particularly when I modulate my voice to sound hassled and angry and frightened, in keeping with the emotions of the characters.

As I read this story, La Niña winced at the descriptions of the cruelty of the humans which was put on display in their home: the various body parts of dead animals that they had stuffed and displayed on their walls. And it was with an audible gasp of relief that she reacted to Little Red World being rescued by his father.

I was happy to hear that sound of relief.

Children need to learn to be sensitive to the troubles faced by those that aren’t like us, and to denounce the actions of the offenders, even when the offenders are people like “us.”


“My country, right or wrong” was a belief that GK Chesterton warned against. I was happy to note that this retelling helped La Niña to think about the plight of the Little Red Wolf, caught in a situation not of his choosing. 

While the book is 80 pages long, most of it is taken up by the beautifully intense illustrations, which helps us breeze through the book. 

Of course, the book is not so much a retelling as a flipping of the characters on the scale of good and evil. The rest of the story from danger to rescue is predictable.

(I read a Kindle edition of this book through Edelweiss.) 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: CHATUR AND THE ENCHANTED JUNGLE

Title: Chatur and the Enchanted Jungle
Author: Subhash Kommuru
Publisher: Kommuru Books
Pages: 32






Chatur and the Enchanted Jungle is a delightful tale that kids could enjoy as well as grownups.

The story is simple, but told so well, and the adorable illustrations add to the charm, enlivening the book still further.

Chatur and his friend, the talking donkey, Gadhu, travel together in search of work. As they travel to the next town, they have to pass through a jungle to get to the next town. Chatur thinks it would be faster to go through the jungle, rather than go around it.

Before long, they are lost. As they settle in for the night, Gadhu resting on the grass and Chatur under the shade of a bargad tree with abundant foliage, the latter wishes for a cold drink of water. Miraculously, a pot of refreshing water appears before him. Emboldened, Chatur asks for something to eat. As each wish is fulfilled, Chatur realizes that this is an enchanted jungle and his greed increases. He keeps asking for more and more.

But then his greed gets the better of him, and he ends up asking for something that ends up undoing all the good he has going for him.

There’s a lesson for kids right there: Greed never pays. But the beauty of this book are the values hidden in plain sight all through this book.

Chatur is always in a hurry to get to places, while Gadhu, more laidback, gently chides him, Ya gotta take it easy, man.

Haste makes waste, we were told as kids, but this is such a delightful way of teaching kids to enjoy the journey. My kids enjoyed repeating Gadhu’s pet phrase. I just hope they don’t make it their motto, or else it will become ammunition to lob at me.

La Niña and El Niño were equally amused by the characters' names. In Hindi, Chatur means clever and smart, while Gadhu is an endearing twist on Gadha, Hindi for donkey, an animal that is almost universally derided as stupid. Yet her, Chatur shows himself to be not-so-smart, while Gadhu turns out to have the last laugh.

Figuratively speaking, of course. Gadhu is too sweet and gentle a soul to laugh at anyone.

The Bargad (banyan) tree is highly venerated in the context of Indian culture and mythology, and I think this book also teaches us a wider truth about all that trees do for us and our world and about the significance of cherishing them, not destroying them.

Wish fulfilment is a fantasy that appeals to children of all ages, and both the kids and I were delighted at the thought of a jungle that had the potential to make wishes come true. The possibilities for fun and adventure were endless, but the author takes this story in the right direction, including within it the right dose of entertainment and values.

Both kids enjoyed reading about the adventures of Chatur and Gadhu. I hope the Kommurus have many more in store.

(I read a Kindle edition of this book through NetGalley.)



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: THE WIFE BETWEEN US

Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 352






The very title attracted me to this book. I knew, on reading the blurb, that it would be a rewarding thriller, and the Prologue made good on the promise. It showed an ex-wife stalking the beautiful woman who has replaced her in her former husband’s affections.

As we read the book, we become aware that Nellie is engaged to be married to Richard Thompson, hedge fund manager, and incredibly rich, and that Vanessa, Richard’s ex-wife, is determined not to let the marriage be solemnised.

Now divorced, Vanessa works as a sales attendant at Saks, lives with her mother’s sister, Aunt Charlotte, and has a drinking problem. 

Nellie is a pre-school teacher, who also waitresses at a downscale café. She is the only daughter of her divorced parents.



The story comes to us in the first person present tense point of view of Vanessa, the ex-wife, and the 3rd person past tense point of view of Nellie, the girl friend. 

The dual perspectives in different tenses help us to engage with the two characters in different ways. With Vanessa’s present tense, we know that she will be the one to upset Nellie’s world; with Nellie’s past tense, we learn that she is the one to whom things will happen.

And while we wait for Vanessa to upturn Nellie’s world, we find that our own has been upturned.



The jealous ex-wife, the naïve fiancée and the virtuous, loving husband are at the heart of this triangle, that’s how we see it, until our assumptions, every single one of them, get torn to shreds.


For nothing is as it appears in this book. And so while the stereotypical old name, Nellie, might conjure images of a naïve waif, Nellie has her own baggage, something that causes her to have nightmares and to sleep with deadbolts on her door.

Vanessa sounds very sophisticated, and yet she was scorned by her husband. But she is no victim. She can barely hold it together. She has a drinking problem and it is overwhelming her. She is in danger of losing her salesgirl job at Saks.


At first, we don’t know what went wrong between Vanessa and Richard; just that there was some deceit on the part of Vanessa that caused the rift. Vanessa’s failure to get pregnant for the 6th time causes Richard to drift apart. 

He blames her drinking habit and then he learns that she had been pregnant back in college, a fact that she failed to mention to him.



I liked the seamless manner in which the flashbacks were introduced into the current narrative. At first, we just get bits of memories from Nellie and Vanessa.

We hardly ever get to see things from Richard’s perspective, except as he appears to Vanessa and Nellie. 

He does truly appear to be too good to be true. We wonder what Vanessa did to lose a catch like him. What is the extent of the betrayal that Richard faces again and again from the women he loves? After all, Vanessa too had only been Richard’s second wife. Before her, there was another who deceived him. 

When Nellie recalls Richard’s words, She wasn’t who I thought she was and then, later when he tells her, Even when I’m not there, I’m always there with you, they take on ominous overtones.



It is in Chapter 10 that Vanessa makes the first suggestion relating to the woman who will replace her, Who will miss her when she disappears?


I didn’t dislike Vanessa, and that was my first cue that I wasn’t expected to, that my expectations were about to be blown away. She has had a hard life, with a father who passed away early and a mother who wasn’t there for her. She has made wrong choices, but she is not bad.

There were so many similarities between Vanessa and Nellie that I wondered if that was Richard’s type: new to the big city, naïve and innocent, and a little bruised by her past.



The authors play around cleverly with the memories, giving us a little at a time, so we can piece them together. Initially, we get Vanessa’s flashbacks, but not Nellie’s.

At first, the memories point towards one truth, and then gradually they acquire a different hue. As Vanessa recalls what really happened, not what she wants to imagine happened, she says, We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.

But maybe that is true of every marriage. Maybe being in love carries the requirement of filtered vision; perhaps it is so for everyone.


I liked Vanessa more than Nellie. Richard and Maureen, Richard’s sister, I didn’t like at all. They were too perfect for my liking. I thought that Maureen was hiding something.

It was at Chapter 18 that my assumptions about the plot and where it was headed were completely overturned. 

Every character got flipped over, the twists kept piling up and the scenario appeared anew. The best way to sum it up would be to say that nobody is what we think they are.

As Vanessa says, The full story is far too tangled and complex to unravel.


I’d definitely recommend this one.


(I read a Kindle edition of this book through NetGalley.)


Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: THE HOUSE ON FOSTER HILL

Title: The House on Foster Hill
Author: Jaime Jo Wright
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 352





It was the cover of the book, with a piano at the bottom of it a beautiful winding staircase, that had drawn me into this book, and it was the cozy mystery that invited me to stay. I was intrigued to find out how the lives of Ivy Thorpe and Kaine Prescott were connected a hundred years apart.

The book is written in the third person past tense point of view of Ivy Thorpe a hundred years ago, and that of Kaine Prescott in the present day. Both these women have been affected by past tragedies, and their sadness is aggravated on coming into contact with Foster Hill.

Ivy assists her father, Dr Thorpe, in medical emergencies and post mortems. She lost her brother in a tragic accident twelve years ago. At that time, she also lost touch with their chidlhoood friend, Joel Cunningham, an orphan. Since then, she has developed a morbid fascination with death. Joel has since returned to the town as the Sherriff’s deputy.

When an unidentified woman is found dead in a hollow in an oak tree near Foster House, Ivy feels very distressed on her account. Learning that the dead woman had given birth just weeks before, she returns to Foster House to find the baby, and is savagely attacked. Determined to find and save the baby, Ivy puts her own life in danger.

Kaine lost her husband, Danny, two years ago, in an accident in which he lost control of his car. Investigations revealed that he had narcotic substances in his blood. Kaine insists that her husband was never a drug user, and that it is therefore a murder. Meanwhile, she is also being stalked. The police believe that she suffers from trauma, and refuse to open Danny’s case, dismissing it as suicide.

Scarred by her tragedy and suffering badly from depression, she decides to move across states to her hometown in Wisconsin, where an unscrupulous realtor cons her into buying Foster House, a dilapidated house that is reputed to be haunted, and that has was the scene of a crime 100 years ago. 

The body of an unidentified woman had been discovered there and Ivy, who had become more than a little interested in the life of the ill-fated woman, had been severely assaulted there.

When Kaine gets there, she realizes that the house is unlivable, dilapidated, and worse, it seems, haunted. Plus, the stalking continues, and Kaine wonders why she seems to attract trouble. In her grandfather’s hometown, she is befriended by Joy, a woman who manages a local store, and Grant Jesse, the romantic interest for Kaine.

Their parallel lives meet when Kaine finds a copy of Dickens’ Great Expectations under the floorboards of the house. The book contains a woman’s writing in the margins. 

The text seems to suggest that the woman was in deep trouble and was calling out for help. It is the same copy that had propelled Ivy to invest in the predicament of the dead woman.

Both women become aware that there is someone out there who will go to any extent to hurt them. Even as their lives are in danger, they are determined to solve the mystery of Foster Hill House. But time is running out, and their unnamed enemy is getting closer. Will it be too late for them, as it for the unidentified woman who was killed in Foster Hill House?


Love enters the lives of Kaine and Ivy in the person of Grant Jesse for Kaine, and Joel Cunningham for Ivy.


Ivy is an unconventional character. She is courageous, prone to unorthodox exclamations and helps her father in post-mortems. I found Ivy more interesting than Kaine, especially since the house was creepier in her day. 

Besides, I felt that Ivy had been actually assaulted. The stalking that Kaine experiences pales in comparison.

By association and on his own strength, Joel felt much stronger than Grant Jesse who doesn’t appear to be a strong character, even though the author tried hard to speak of his strength and  bravery. Grant is supposed to have some experience as a counsellor, which is why, Kaine surmises, he can see through her and he knows exactly what is happening to her. Trouble is, we're not convinced.

The dead Danny doesn’t come alive as a character. Even when he was alive, he was rather lifeless. Of course, the only time we meet him is in Kaine’s memories and even then not so often or so vividly either. You don’t get any impression of deep love between him and Kaine.

Even stranger, she hardly meets Grant and her heart seems to pound. I couldn't understand why. Grant was thoroughly uninspiring and insipid.


There were some errors. In one place, there was the word, emblazed, instead of emblazoned. Kaine is said to have heralded from San Diego, instead of hailed from. In one place, Detective Tamara Hanson is referred to as male in one paragraph.

Patti, the librarian, is referred to, quite unnecessarily, in my opinion, as a gargoyle, while Mr Mason, the curator of the local museum, is described as adorable, in a curator sort of way. What is that supposed to mean?


The writing was okay, rather tepid, I would say. It would have greatly improved in the first person points of view of both women.

The pace was slow and repetitive. The Gothic effort that the author strove to achieve didn’t quite come off well.
Even the element of Christian faith came out as totally forced. Neither Joy nor Grant seemed convincing when they spoke about their beliefs. Their talks on faith appeared unreal. It seemed as if they were either talking in a trance, or reading from a script. No conviction at all.

I can understand Joy never reading her grandmother’s diary scribbled on the pages of Great Expectations, in deference to her wishes, but for Kaine to refrain from reading through the unidentified woman’s diary, when there could have been clues to explain the mystery there, seemed foolish.

The mystery took far too long to get resolved. The book could have been shorter and tighter. Ivy spent an excessively long period of time in feeling upset with Joel even after knowing the compulsions that had driven him away. Her personal drama kept getting in the way of the solving of the mystery.


I was rather disappointed with this one.


(I read a Kindle edition of this book through NetGalley.)


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: GONE WITHOUT A TRACE

Title: Gone Without A Trace
Author: Mary Torjussen
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 352









What I liked about this book was the slow and steady pace with which the reliable narrator turned unreliable. I also liked the basic premise of the book: What the heroine does when she discovers that her boyfriend has just walked out of her life? No explanations granted.

Unfortunately, the resolution didn't feel convincing to me.


Gone without a Trace by Mary Torjussen is written in the first person past tense point of view of Hannah Monroe, a 32-year-old successful accountant. Returning from a conference at which her work is highly commended and the senior management hints that she is going to be promoted, Hannah returns home in high spirits only to find out that her world has altered in the last few days.

At first, she thinks her home has been broken into, and that her live-in boyfriend of four years, Matt Stone, has met with foul play. After all, the relationship was going great. There were issues, of course, but which couple does not? There was no reason for him to have walked out.

But gradually, Hannah moves from a stage of denial to acceptance. She concedes that Matt has walked out on her. That he has taken away everything that had belonged to him; every single thing he had bought or owned is missing, down to the coffee beans, bottle of ketchup and jar of Marmite. He has also re-arranged her things exactly as they were before he moved into her home.

When she tries to call him, she is shocked to learn that his name has disappeared from her phone contacts. Worse, his emails have disappeared from her mailbox. When she calls him, the number, she learns, has been invalidated.

She cannot even begin to imagine what might have prompted this deliberate act of removing himself from her life. Distraught and desperate for an explanation for this bizarre behaviour, Hannah turns to Katie, her best friend since they were five, and Katie’s boyfriend, James, with whom Hannah had been in a relationship at age 17, for help.

Matt’s disappearance sends Hannah into a downward spiral, causing her to lose her focus at work. Everything points to the fact that her obsession with finding the truth about what happened to Matt is slowly driving her mad. Soon she becomes aware that somebody is entering her house, making subtle but perceptible changes.

At work, Sam, her friend, and Lucy, her assistant, are very supportive, even as her other colleagues and bosses view the change within Hannah with distaste. But gradually, even they began to act strange around her. To make things worse, Ray and Sheila, the next door neighbours, are horrible and distasteful.

Hannah gets disturbing messages from an unrecognized number. In an environment in which she can’t really trust anyone, not even Katie and James, she loses her health and runs the risk of losing her job and her sanity.
But what really is the truth? Are her suspicions true or is she hallucinating?



Before long, I found myself engaged with Hannah’s problems. We feel sorry for her initially. She seems so close to having it all, and then her boyfriend’s disappearance tips her over the edge.

There is some drama with her parents going on that we never fully understand. Her dad is a serial cheat in their marriage, and her mother is too secretive.

There are very few characters in this book, but none you like; none that grow on you. The only character for whom I felt even a shred of sympathy was Hannah’s mother, but the author lets us spend so little time with her that we feel as if we barely know her.



Everyone is lying.

Hannah can trust no one.

Interestingly, neither can we.

Hannah’s reliability, as a narrator, takes a fierce downturn to the point where we aren’t sure what part of all that she has revealed is true, if at all.


I found Hannah’s friendship with Katie strange. It was shocking to see the kind of relationship that the two best friends had. There was so much insecurity in it, and jealousy, and a total lack of any friendly feeling. They were always rushing out to buy anything new that the other one bought or received. It was unhealthy and rather unsettling.

There were also far too many flashbacks, many of them unrelated to Matt. There were several relating to James, and Katie, but the bits about her parents and their marriage, which would have given us a better idea of the kind of person that she is, were far too sparse.


The author gives us excruciating detail about every moment of Hannah’s day, and that became annoying to read about, after a while. But then I figured that a woman who had had such a shock might justifiably seek consolation in routine.


The ending was only slightly unexpected for me.





Thursday, September 07, 2017

Book Review: GUIDE ME HOME

Title: Guide Me Home
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Pages: 352






Guide Me Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer follows her own well-established stylistic tradition in which the heroine is a girl of strong faith while the hero is one who does not yet know of God’s love and mercy.

Rebekah Hardin is the oldest of seven children. She lives with her hardworking parents and her younger sisters. The family, far from well off, suffers further after the death of Rebekah’s younger brother, 15-year-old Andy, who died in the local tourist attraction, Mammoth Caves, with Rebekah’s mother becoming a shadow of her former self.

Rebekah feels responsible for Andy’s death. She had snapped, “Get lost,” to him at their last interaction, following which Andy entered the caves and really got lost there. Rebekah feels that if Andy were laid to rest in the woods near their home, with a headstone, it would be a fitting gesture and give her mother closure. 

Since they don’t have the $26 required to buy the marker, Rebekah gets a job as a guide at Mammoth Cave, taking rich folks to show them around the Caves.

One of Rebekah’s sisters, Cissy, who resents her life and longs for a prince to rescue her out of poverty. Her stubbornness gets her into trouble, seeing love where there isn’t any, and not being able to see it where it exists in abundance.

Meanwhile, university student Devlin Bale comes to Mammoth Caves to chart out a more accurate map of the caves and to further the political ambitions of his professor-father. Devlin hails from a very wealthy family. His world is as far removed from Rebekah’s as possible and yet the two come together.

As the two come close, they are watched over by Tolly Sandford, the elderly black guide of Mammoth Caves, who feels responsible for Rebekah’s safety.

But will the friendship survive the class differences between the two? What will happen when Tolly and Rebekah get to know of Devlin’s agenda for the caves? Will he accept the faith that drives Rebekah? And will Cissy get into trouble on account of her attitude?


The story is told in the third person past tense point of view of Rebekah, Devlin, Cissy and Tolly.

The author creates a world, filling it with the details of life as it must have been in that time. It is a world in which women can’t vote and professional jobs such as guides are the preserve of men alone.

We learn more about the era from the fact that Rebekah’s parents have seven living and four babies stillborn and 15-year-old Andy dead. Life is hard and they are pitted in a battle for survival against nature.

I also liked the author’s trademark of shifting viewpoints in the middle of a situation.

I found Rebekah to be a sweet character who puts her family before her own needs. The caves have swallowed her brother, and she displays courage in her willingness to seek employment there.

I liked Rebekah’s description of a good marriage, such as the one her parents have. Sparks that never need somebody puffing at them to make them flare up again, sparks that didn’t die even when hardships came along.


The Mammoth Caves, and their history, form a large portion of this story. I was surprised to note that these caves are real, not imaginary. The narrative, as it relates to the caves, is very well told. We get an idea of the excitement and intrigue generated by the caves as also the very real danger they pose.

While this was a sweet book, I didn't find it as engaging as one of her previous books, Echoes of Mercy.

(I received a copy of Guide Me Home from WaterBrook Multnomah.)



Monday, September 04, 2017

Book Review: THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER

Title: The Marsh King's Daughter
Author: Karen Dionne
Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons
Pages: 320







The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale by the same name.

The book is written in the first person past tense point of view of Helena Pelletier nee Holbrook. Born in captivity to a mother who was just 17 when she was abducted by Jacob Holbrook, Helena had not seen another human being apart from her parents by the time she turned 12 years of age.

Today, Helena is happily married to Stephen Pelletier, and they, along with their kids, five-year-old Iris, and baby Mari, live on the estate bequeathed to her by her father’s parents. The same father that she had helped send to prison.

Her husband knows nothing about her past, but all that changes when she hears on the news that Jacob killed two guards and escaped from prison. She knows that his next stop will be to hunt her down and punish her for putting him away.

The only one who can protect her family is Helena, for she is the only one who knows how to fight well. After all, it was he who trained her to be the warrior she is. She is the only one who knows his methods, how his mind works, and she aims to catch him and put him back in prison.

Will she succeed against her father? Or will he outwit her?



The writing is descriptive, deliciously so, and you imagine yourself on the marsh with the dangerous Jacob Holbrook lurking around. I enjoyed Helena’s descriptions of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and the life there, the prevailing weather conditions and the starkness of the environment in which man realises just how puny he is in the face of nature’s power.

I liked the back and forth linkages between the past and the present. For instance, Helena tells us about how Jacob forced her to play tracking games; if she lost, she had to surrender something that was important to her. This time, what is at stake is her family.



Returning to civilisation, Helena comments on her experience, her understanding of civilisation versus the wilderness, and the media frenzy that her return evokes.

Her father, a larger-than-life figure who she idolises, dominates her recollections. But these recollections are tinged with hindsight.

Overall, there is an air of adventure about life in the marsh that we can’t help but find appealing. Particularly from the perspective of a child who didn’t truly know the man she idolised as her father.




I found the nuggets of information that Helena supplied very interesting. Like the one on how bears bleed. These nuggets were not unlike the well-researched content carried by the National Geographic volumes that she grew up learning to read.

Tracking is like reading, Helena tells us. The signs are words. Connect them into sentences and they tell a story about an incident in the life of the animal that passed through.

In the absence of radio, TV, traffic and other distractions, she has learned to listen for sound. She is completely at home in the wilderness, and can survive better there than she can in the midst of civilisation.



The story is written in the first person point of view of Helena. The main story is interspersed with excerpts from the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale by the same name, which precede the chapters. The child in the tale is a beautiful but wild and wicked child by day, and an ugly but sweet and mournful frog at night.

Similarly, Helena too is conflicted, resenting her father and loving him too. She is the one who helped put her father behind bars, yet she idolises him, and continues to do so, despite knowing the extent of his cruelty. She’s happy her father is free, even though just like that, the walls of my carefully constructed second life come tumbling down.

Strangely, she resents her mother for the situation, for not doing enough to protect her, when her mother’s plight was far worse than hers.

She knows the psychology behind why her mother never tried to escape, the ‘learned helplesseness’ that caused her to obey her captor but she still resents her mother and thinks that she does not love her.

I can get the fact that her years away from civilisation, away from other people, has left her unable to really judge people. By her own admission, she was a girl who didn’t know we were captives until we were not.

What I don’t understand is why she didn’t sell the house and move away, why she didn’t change her first name. Why leave those clues behind for her father to trace? 

As a child, she has no way of knowing that her father is abusive, but surely that understanding must have come later, some measure of it, after she and her mother were rescued and she began to make a new life for herself. Surely in the interest of her family’s safety, she should have fled the state.

It is annoying when characters behave stupidly after first giving you evidence of their intelligence.


At one level, I felt sorry for Helena. Her recollections make it hard for us to figure out whether we should pity her or admire her.

She describes the hunting and shooting lessons that her father gives her in detail. It made me feel more than a little queasy at the thought of a man like that influencing a child’s mind.

Jacob is a sadistic and devious man who manipulated the child who adored him. As readers, we can see that and we feel irritated when Helena does not. We fear that her refusal to see him as a threat will hurt her and her family.


It is only towards the end that she admits later that Memories can be tricky, especially those from childhood and Maybe the man I remember never existed. Maybe the things I think happen never did. 

(I got a free ARC from FirstToRead).


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