Monday, September 15, 2014

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

Wakening the CrowWith the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.

Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it's a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe's Tooth Books.

Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe's accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver's relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It's a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe's Tooth Books. 

This was one strange book. It has a very Gothic feel to it, which is always a positive for me, but it somehow felt hollow. Like there wasn’t much of a story there. 

I think the main issue that I had with the novel was that all the characters were so unlikable. I don’t mind unlikeable characters if they’re interesting ones, but I didn’t feel connected to these in the least. I wanted the protagonist to turn into an anti-hero of some sort, but it just never got there. 

The writing was good, at least. The author has some beautiful turn of phrases that really catch the reader’s attention. There were some hard moments for me to read because they describe in graphic detail an animal being hurt and that’s something I had to skip. But kudos to the author, I suppose, for making the images so visceral that I couldn’t read them. 

If you like Gothic fiction and don’t mind a novel full of unlikeable characters, then you might like this one.

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