Saturday, August 5, 2017

Emma in the Night and Other July Reads

I finished 10 books in July:

Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt (ARC For my review, click here.)
The Selection by Kiera Cass
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (audiobook, reread)
Emma in the Night (ARC)
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux
The Elite by Kiera Cass
Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker from St. Martin’s Press as part of a giveaway.

This is the story of two teenage sisters who went missing in the night three years ago. Emma (the older sister) left some clues behind. Her car, parked near the beach. Her shoes, sitting in the sand. Cass (the younger sister) left no trace. The case has gone cold, but has not stopped haunting Dr. Abby Winter, the FBI forensic psychologist who worked the case.

Now Cass is back. She has appeared much as she disappeared. Quickly, with no explanation, and few clues. Her story is jumbled, incoherent. A tale of being held by an odd couple on an isolated island. But she insists that Emma is still out there, that they have to find her. This novel is the quest to find Emma.

It should be straightforward. Find the island. Find Emma. Rescue her from the couple.

Here’s the trouble. As a reader, there’s something off in Cass’s story. Dr. Winter senses it, just like we do. There’s something riding under the surface, something that Cass wants, or wants to keep hidden. Like Dr. Winter, you as the reader feels like you’re not getting the full, true story. And it’s not just Cass that you doubt.

I didn’t fully trust anyone in the novel. Everyone has secrets. Everyone has an agenda. These secrets and agendas contradict each other, muddying the investigation by the FBI and challenging the reader to sort through to find the truth.

Even at the end of the novel, when the secrets have been unveiled, I still questioned if I really had the true story. I had the feeling that there might be more that the characters just weren’t willing to share.

The one thing that make this book a bit of a challenge was that large portions of the story are a character telling us about something that happened in the past. As this novel is about the ripples and echoes caused by events in the past, this makes sense. But I found myself occasionally jerked to awareness that the events described were not happening now. It took away a bit of my investment in the story, the urgency of the story. These things already happened. There was no changing them. What really mattered was what happened next. Tightening up some of these passages might have kept me in the story a bit more.

Overall, this was a great read. While I could see lots of possibilities for “the truth,” Wendy Walker kept me questioning everything I thought I knew until the end of the story and beyond.

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