(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I thought that this book was an interesting concept. I liked the atmosphere and how the historical aspect of the world seemed very authentic. While the writing out of the accents was sometimes hard to read, as it was difficult to figure out what the characters were saying, it was a good way of allowing me to hear the way they talked.
I did find the book a bit jarring and awkward to read. The blurb implied that the death of one character was connected to the downfall of another… but by the end of the book, I had no idea how they were apart from by a very thin strand of a thread.
The book was a very short one and I felt it could have been expanded upon a lot more. It didn’t seem like that much time had passed between Seth and Enoch being childhood friends and then being married with children themselves.
There was a lot of potential in this book in regards to the downward spiral Enoch took, but it was very difficult to understand how he got to that point. While the first bad actions made a little bit of sense, by the end of the book, the Enoch whose perspective was shown seemed entirely different to the Enoch other characters saw.
I think the book would have been easier to read with more development in the secondary characters. A lot of them were just mentioned once or twice, so when they had something bad happen to them, it was much harder to care.
While there were some interesting aspects to how some of the characters were connected to each other, those connections didn’t really seem to add anything to the story… and there was too much glossing over in the way of interactions between characters.
A lot of the book did have potential when it came to tensions between the different people regarding slavery and although some of the attitudes were completely and dangerously wrong, I felt they made a certain kind of sense for that time period. However, I couldn’t really figure out why Enoch and Seth wound up being so vehemently opposed to each other, even though neither had seemed to have a stance earlier on in the book.
I don’t think I’d read this book again, but I wouldn’t be averse to reading other books by this author in the future.
I did appreciate the honest evaluation of my book, The Bleeding Door– both the positive and the critical. I take it all as valid. I do agree the blurb isn’t the best– there is a connection between the incidents at the Bethel School and the Enoch Slone/Seth Waller story, though that connection is not actually the focal point of the story. I admit the blurb was written in a bit of haste.
True also, Enoch’s downward spiral may have seemed too steep, too quickly. That is probably due to the original manuscript (which was ALL the Enoch/Seth story) was 394 pages and included much more of what was going on inside Enoch’s mind. I did “scrunch” the mountain story to make room for the Bethel School story. I guess because I had such a personal connection to the Bethel School history, that I very much wanted to tack it into the novel as an opening. Granted, not all readers were fan of that part of the novel.
Lastly, I’ll just comment on why Seth and Enoch seemed to become mortal enemies so rapidly. There were a few incidents where Seth heard how Enoch and his father were bad-mouthing Confederates as well as boasting of the deaths of Waller friends. But when Enoch fired on Seth’s brother, that, in mountain clan culture, is pretty much an unforgivable act and you tend to be enemies at that point.
Again, I appreciate your taking the time to post a thoughtful review.