Mother Confessor – Book Review
Being relatively new to blogging on a regular basis, I do occasionally find it hard keeping track of all the posts I’ve commented on, ones I follow regularly (and yes I know, there are lots of WordPress features that aid in this), and the exact circumstances in which a particular book comes to my attention, and this is one of those occasions. That being said, ‘Mother Confessor’, by Phyl Campbell is another of those books I’m pleased to have read.
I’d also recommend taking a look at her blog, www.phylcampbell.com, which contains a great deal of interesting and varied content…
*following this review, I’ve taken the opportunity to offer a brief explanation of my book reviews…
(Available from Amazon in both Kindle ebook and paperback)
This is a book that defies all the usual definitions of genre, combining elements of horror, murder, kidnap, betrayal, and many more besides.
Written in a style that I found to be both original and refreshing, the story takes place in and around what one imagines to be a rural community in which everyone knows everyone else’s business, suspicious of ‘outsiders’, admitting ‘new-comers’ only out of necessity.
Much of the narrative takes place by way of a sort of community matriarch, some of which is told in flashback. What starts off as what might be just a few spooky tales of the past swiftly evolves into something more substantial. Events initially move along at a nice steady pace, progressively building tension and a sense of unease and suspense that something sinister is waiting just round the corner and it’s not too long before that corner is indeed reached. What follows are a series of clever twists and unexpected turns as past secrets are revealed amidst what’s happening in the present, yet all cleverly held together by the matriarchal narrator.
The story reaches an explosive and satisfying resolution; often when one reads a great book, one hopes for a sequel, but in many cases the original book was written as a self-contained ‘stand-alone’ work, and any such sequels often feel laboured or ‘contrived, whereas here, the author deliberately leaves some unanswered questions and plenty of scope for the intended sequel. I shall most certainly be reading that too in the near future…
My Reviewing Ethos…
I’d also like to take this opportunity say something about my book reviews. A reader recently asked how I would deal with a book I really didn’t like, or thought was really bad, since all my reviews appear to be positive.
Firstly, whenever I commit to reading a book, and possibly reviewing it, I always make a point of reading through any of the freebie samples available to give me an indication if I’m likely to enjoy it. If after reading it I really don’t like it, or think it’s badly written, then I simply don’t review it. If I were a professional reviewer, with a long list of my own literary successes to my name then that would be a different matter. As it is, my reviews here can only be described as my personal opinions. If I were reviewing a book by a successful and well known author, and I didn’t like the book I might well say so, safe in the knowledge that one negative review by a relatively unknown blogger wouldn’t be likely to affect its sales or discourage the author in any way. But in the case of a new writer, particularly a self-published one, the last thing I want to do is discourage them in any way or possibly knock their confidence, especially if my opinion or analysis of their work might well be totally wide of the mark
Creative writing, and indeed any kind of writing is very much a learning process, with the writer discovering what does and doesn’t work for them, developing their own style and voice, something that takes both time and patience and lots and continuous effort and practice. Since many of the writers with blogs on WordPress are very much at the beginning of their writing efforts and careers, they should be given every encouragement and public praise where warranted, but on those occasions where such praise isn’t in the opinion of the reviewer, warranted, then I believe if the reader or reviewer wants to express their dislike or poor opinion of something, they should do so privately.
I’m certainly not advocating that any online ‘constructive’ criticism should be avoided; indeed, just recently I wrote a flash fiction piece, Behind the Sofa, which a fellow blogger, Tom Benson (tombensoncreative.wordpress.com), was kind enough to take the time and trouble to read and comment on, and whilst he expressed his enjoyment of the piece, he tempered that with some very sound advice as to how it might be improved (advice which upon re-reading the piece, I mostly agreed with and which will be reflected in the anthology I’m working on).
I hope this little addendum to my review of ‘Mother Confessor’ clarifies my ethos regarding online reviewing.