“Silent” a Historical Thriller

Silent by David Mellon is a suspenseful story of a young woman, Adi, who unknowingly offends a certain man, a man who kidnaps her twin brothers in an act of vengance, leaving her only a watch and two riddles to direct her to where her brothers are. In a race against time, Adi struggles to solve the riddles before her time is up and her brothers lost forever. Set in 1914, Silent takes place in the time leading up to, and during World War I.

A story, or plot, driven book, Silent did a great job of keeping me invested, not only in the mystery, but also in the characters. I found them all interesting and believable.

The villain, always a determining factor in such books, was creepy, sometimes otherworldly, and coldly calculating. But he also very human in surprising ways. He made me curious, and drew pity, even sympathy, from me at times.

While this is a YA novel, I would really recommend this compelling novel to anyone middle grade or older. Personally, this book held me captive from beginning to end. While there were a few lulls near the middle of the book the initial premise and promise of the novel pulled me through and I found it well worth the time and effort of seeing it through to the end. 4.5/5.

 

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Welcome to “The Night Circus”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has given me withdrawal. Since finishing it, I find myself pining after a story that has sadly ended. I know I should move on, but instead I spend keep thinking of all the nuances of the story, the characters, the writing.

The Night Circus is a beautifully crafted story of a circus, two magicians, romance, and fate. Written in first, second, and limited third person, The Night Circus brings the circus to life through the written word, with complex characters and a mysterious story line.

I loved the gorgeous prose. Each chapter and section of prose was carefully and purposely placed, bread crumbs that when added together create a beautiful and delicious cake (I know that’s not how it really works, but just roll with it). If you are in a rush to read, then it may seem a bit slow at first. But if you are in the mood to savor each lengthy, yet beautiful description with little thought for plot, this is the book for you. If you aren’t in the mood for a slow book, but you still want to read The Night Circus, then read the first third of it as quickly as you can, and enjoy the wonderfulness that is this book.

A large part of what makes this book so awesome is the characters. Morgenstern has done an excellent job of creating complex and realistic characters, many that we love, some that we hate, but all that we believe. The main characters Marco and Celia have unconventional childhoods, and we see how their upbringing affects the rest of their lives, allowing us to also understand their actions. Each side character is detailed in such a way as to allow us to get a good grasp of who they really are and how they are important in the story. Because each character, no matter how small their role, is incredibly important to the storyline. If a character is included, they are important.

I absolutely loved this book. While I was somewhat disappointed by the ending, the journey was incredible enough that it made up for it, and I can’t say that much for a lot of books. Normally the ending makes or breaks a book for me.

The magic in this story is contagious, it refuses to stay contained within the pages it was written. I find myself thinking about the world of The Night Circus, wishing I could visit. If you are looking for a beautiful work of art with gorgeous descriptions, you will definitely enjoy this book.

**FYI: For those who are more sensitive to language, there is one strong swear word in the first chapter, but after that it is completely clean of swearing.**

 

Vango—Historical Fiction at its Finest

Well-written, exciting, action-packed, set between WWI and WWII, and excellently translated, Vango: Between Earth and Sky by Timothée de Fombelle, and translated by Sarah Ardizzone, is currently contending for a spot in my top five favorite YA books of all time.

A historical fiction mystery and adventure novel traverses most of Europe, exploring surfacing tensions during the 20th century following the rise of Hitler, Stalin, and preceding the start of WWII. This book, the first of the two-part series,  explores themes and motifs of fate, divine intervention, sacrifice of relationships in return for protection for loved-ones, corruption, and communication. Between Earth and Sky follows Vango, a boy with a mysterious past, an innocent boy suspected of murder. Featuring an ensemble cast, this book expertly balances character development with plot development.

It takes great skill to jump between ten plus characters and still have a balanced narrative with a clear main character, and an engaged audience. While the sheer number of characters forces the novel to sacrifice an intimate reader relationship with the main character, the complexity of the storylines compensates, and even works the absence of intimacy to its advantage. Because the reader is unable to identify intimately with Vango, the mystery of his past and his character becomes an increasingly alluring, drawing the reader further into the mystery.

I thought at one point in the book that the large array of characters would be superfluous by the end of the novel, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that each and every character served a distinct purpose, everything and everyone included within the storyline felt purposely placed in order to better serve the story. de Fombelle’s calculated way of writing both led and misled the reader through giving the clues necessary to solving the mysteries of the novel, but doing so in a way that the reader was either unaware of the importance of the information, or misinterpreted it. While this could have resulted in a confusing and disastrous effect, I found the end result delightfully complex and satisfying.

It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Between Earth and Sky, and it was also largely due to the quality of the translation. Had I not known beforehand that it had been translated from French to English, I would never have guessed. Not a single sentence felt out-of-place or awkward. Ardizzone, did an excellent job of translating de Fombelle’s beautiful novel. The figurative language was fresh (I particularly enjoyed the many metaphors), and imaginative, and each sentence felt beautifully crafted.

I highly recommend this book. I absolutely loved it. However, if you do decide to give it a try, I would recommend taking it in slowly, and savoring it. The complexity of the many storylines can get confusing if you aren’t paying close attention.