Monday, February 17, 2014

Cathing up & The Fate of Mercy Alban

I've been slacking, so I have a lot of catching up to do.
First I'll focus on "The Fate of Mercy Alban," by Wendy Webb. I wanted to love this book so much. It had absolutely everything I'm looking for in a book: creepy old house, ghosts, set in Minnesota, and a Minnesota author. It doesn't get much better than that, right?
Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. I really try not to be one of those people who thinks, "I've written better things than this. Why is this person published and I'm not?" but I have to admit it crossed my mind a few times while reading this. The idea was fantastic, but the writing was lacking. I think it was a mistake to write it in first person; it would have been more suspenseful if it had been written in third. The narrator was very vague and almost distant from her own story, which I thought was odd, and it kept me wondering throughout the book if she was an unreliable narrator. Honestly, I was ready to forgive all and call it brilliant right up to the end, if that would have been the case. It wasn't.
There were times when the book screamed for an editor. The use of the word "scant" twice in two pages comes to mind as an example. I know it's probably not a huge deal, but it's not a word that I see used all that often and it stood out to me.
It became increasingly annoying that the narrator had the opportunity to find out the truth multiple times throughout the book, but she didn't. She could have insisted that the maid tell her. She could have read the whole manuscript she discovered in one night, but she didn't. No, she always had something else to do first (like play kissy face with her boyfriend), and the truth could wait.
The most unbelievable aspect of the book was the world-famous writer. I can believe that a ghost appeared to the narrator while she slept in her bed. I can't believe that this brilliant, award-winning writer decided to go back to college and get a degree when his career was already taking off. I can't believe that the amazing novel the author came up with was a thinly veiled, poorly written account of his summer at Alban House. I can't believe that high schoolers would have studied this man's work in school. There's just too much there that doesn't work for me.
Even though there was a lot I didn't like about this book, I think I'll be giving Wendy Webb another try. As I said, I LOVE her ideas, and that her books are set in Minnesota. I'll be keeping my expectations low this time, and hoping that "The Fate of Mercy Alban" was just a fluke.

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