Aug 20-Sept 24, 2016
Five weeks. Struggling. That's a long time for a book by an author I adore. But what a disappointment. I was so excited to dive into Mitchard's latest because it had been about eight years since she'd released anything new. I have to admit that even the jacket copy wasn't as intriguing as I hoped. But from a well-loved storyteller, I had to give it a chance.
The first issue I had was with the far-reaching facts. Not that reality can't be suspended in a great novel, but it still has to be believable. Adopting a boy saved from a tsunami, when in fact, the boy was kidnapped, is not endearing. The second stumbling block was the heavy focus on horses. Horse training. Horse farms. Horse competitions. Horse, horse, horse. While it may have added interest to the plot, it could have been edited down significantly. From there, the story spiraled out of control. Too many facets, too many directions this book tried to cover. It was like the story was trying to be a romance, mystery, animal-lover, murder, intrigue and family epic all in one. Too much. The telepathy the children had could have been the main focus, but was instead eye-rolling because it was treated more of an afterthought. Bottom line is that Mitchard should never, ever write a mystery novel again.
The whole tale seemed rushed, frantic and completely jumbled. The characters were not very likable, not well explained, and certainly underdeveloped. Even the "bad guy" was a head-scratcher. In the last 20 pages of the book when he finally appears, I found myself thinking "who?" And then not caring much because he was written like a mustache-twirling buffoon. Throw in the killing of the family dog and a newborn foal – presumably just to add suspense – and I'm done.
This review is incredibly harsh, I know, but I expected so much more from one of my favorites.
* * * * *