Sometimes a book can be sitting on the reading list for months at a time. And sometimes, just one glance at a new book is enough to automatically disregard all those that have been patiently waiting. This was one such book. As usual, before curling up to read this tale, I inhaled that ever-familiar bookish smell of ink and paper. Much to my disappointment, I can honestly say that the book smelt a lot better than what lay within. I had been expecting to be mesmerised (yes, pun intended) but this simply did not happen.
There was something lacking about this book. The two protagonists, Agnes and Pearl, didn’t seem to have distinctive personalities of their own and more often than not both seemed to meld into one another. Their voices were extremely similar to the point where it became difficult to distinguish between the two. Neither Pearl nor Agnes were particularly likable, although it was difficult not to feel a little sympathetic towards both their circumstances.
There was an over emphasis on how fragile both females were throughout the narrative. Though both characters wanted to take matters in their own hands, tangibly they were helpless, and ended up being passive agents in the unfolding of events. This was frustrating to witness on several accounts, mainly because it highlighted the powerless nature of women during that era.
The plot moved at a sluggish pace and most of it was underwhelming by a large degree. So much so, that towards the end when the twist finally landed, as interesting as it was, it still wasn’t enough to lift the story. The revelations made did not have the desired effect; there was no feeling of surprise or shock. The concept of having a silhouette artist against the backdrop of murder was well done; however, the way it had played out on the page was not.
The ending left too many questions unanswered and was just as unsatisfying as the rest of the story. Excuse the brutal honesty, but it truly read as if it had been hurried and was rather lacklustre. There had been untapped potential after the interesting twist, which was completely wasted. After finishing the book, I could do nothing but sigh, whilst feeling a pang of disappointment.
During the course of the book, it felt like too many elements had been shoved in with the result that none of them were properly explored. In the end, enough detail had not been provided, meaning that justice had not been done to any of the elements such as the supernatural component or murder mystery. The descriptions weren’t vivid enough to create an appropriately eerie atmosphere. It was impossible to tell that the story had been set in Bath bar the scattered mentions of this by name.
Basically, the whole book was a disappointment from start to finish. I kept waiting for it to get better, and before I knew it, the last page had been turned. Despite the premise being full of potential, the characters and plot left much to be desired.
P.S. How does a cow become invisible? By using caMOOflage 😉