Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Reviews: The Mermaid Chair & The Vanishing Season

Continuing to review the books I've read over the course of this past year, here we have The Mermaid Chair and The Vanishing Season. Enjoy!

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Mermaid Chair was an intriguing title and a fun cover that I happened upon at a yard sale. I recognized the author, so I thought I would give it a shot. It was not as good as I had hoped, but I was still pretty hooked. Really interesting characters, and a lovely chemistry between them. But I find that sometimes titles can be misleading. There was indeed a mermaid chair in the book, but I didn't feel it had as much significance to the story as the title implies...

Jessie  is suffering from empty-nest syndrome and realizing that she's not sure whether she still loves her husband or not. Then she gets a call asking her to come home, to help take care of her eccentric mother who has been making questionable decisions. Jessie grasps the chance to get away from her own life. While she tries to help her mom sort through the reasons behind her strange behaviour, Jessie also tries to sort out her own feelings. But then she meets Brother Thomas, and her life suddenly becomes very complicated.

It was a good read, - a sort of self-discovery and love story - but took me longer than anticipated to read because it wasn't as interesting as I thought it might be. I don't think I would recommend it, just because I didn't love it. But it was good.


The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
**SPOILER WARNING: I tried not to, but I think I may have inadvertently spilled some figurative beans with this one.**
I found this book at Chapters, marked down to $5. The cover and title appealed to me. It sounded like a pretty interesting concept:
Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig. I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.
It's more or less a ghost story, told by the ghost. That is to say, it's narrated in the first person, from the point of view of the ghost or spirit (we're not quite sure which). It's about three teenagers in a small town: the brainiac new girl, Maggie; her neighbour, the eccentric rich girl, Pauline; and Pauline's best friend, Liam. It's a story of first love, of backstabbing friends, of broken hearts... but it's also a story of bravery & nobility & doing the right thing, and of moving on...
The ending is strange. It's simultaneously satisfying and dissatisfying. For good measure, at the climax we're sure that two of our main characters are going to die. Someone does die, but not who we're expecting. In the end we finally find out what/who is telling the story, but it's rather disappointing.
We're given the impression that there's a serial killer on the loose and so one of the girls might surely become a victim and die in that way. Then there is Pauline's carefree lifestyle, being sure that she will die young because her father did, which makes us think she will most likely be the casualty. There are also hints that maybe the ghostly narrator is someone who lived in Maggie's house hundreds of years ago, which was my preferred idea. But none of these were true, which was disappointing for me...
I liked the book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Young Adult and creepy reads.

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