Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Spiritual/Metaphysical Fiction
Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words
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“Sharon knew she was a writer the day several classmates from different classes came up to tell her a high school teacher had read them a story she wrote. She was a bit shy back then but was secretly thrilled when the teacher read the story in front of her English Lit class.”
Sharon Tillotson lives in Vancouver, BC. For more, visit her website.
“An ordinary human being finding her life purpose... With a little help from her soul...
Sarah is a Soul who is trying to guide Suzy along her path of rediscovering herself... Or is it redefining? Reinventing? Sarah thinks it might be better defined as remembering, but it's only Suzy who is concerned about the semantics. Sarah just wishes Suz would get on with it. A rather spirited Spirit, Sarah often finds herself rolling her eyes at Suzy's antics and the walls she has built up following the death of her husband. Sarah knows the body/mind/spirit energy who is currently housed in the human called Suzy has faced far more difficult challenges than the one she chose for this reincarnation.”
For someone who is neither religious, nor very spiritual, it seems my reading material has leaned toward both recently. This book is heavy on the spirituality, but without the religion. Its structure is clever, with narration from a “soul” with interleaved stories of the people she has inhabited in multiple lives spent on earth. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, but don’t have strong beliefs against it, that part of the story shouldn’t be any harder to buy into than most speculative fiction.
I’ve read a few other books like this, where multiple story lines were happening in different times in history, and found that I had a much stronger affinity for one of the story lines compared to the others. That wasn’t true of The Storyteller. Although it was much easier to identify with Suzy, the character living in contemporary times, I didn’t find myself wishing the other characters weren’t there or that I could read through their sections faster. I also thought Tillotson did a very good job in making the voices of the different characters unique in a way that was a positive in reinforcing their differences in time, place, and experience. It was a different kind of story, with a positive message.
Where I had some difficulty was with some writing tics, a minor plot discrepancy, and a plot turn I thought broke what, if it isn’t a rule, should be one. The plot discrepancy really was minor, at least to the story, when a store that was in Sausalito in the first half of the book was mystically transported several hundred miles south to Pasadena in the later half.
The rule (at least in my mind) that was broken was when the main character, who had been mourning the death of her husband and been painting him by both her actions and thoughts as the perfect spouse, suddenly sprung some reasons why he might not have been. Misleading the other characters with words and actions is fine, but misleading the reader in her thoughts, not so much. It seemed like that author might have thought she needed this to justify one of the characters’ actions. It wasn’t.
The writing tic was one of those things that gave me pause the first time, but became an irritant by the end of the book. An example is in the sentence, “He was in charge of both marketing and human resources, he’d informed her on a laugh, …” That “on a laugh” part (sometimes “on a smile”), was also used in dialog tags, in place of “he said” or “she said.” While grammatically correct and better than some of the dialog tag misuses I’ve seen, trying to communicate a characters emotions this way too often feels forced, unnatural, and contrived, which is how it read to me. One final concern was a tendency for the main character to float off into daydream-land in the middle of a conversation. Normally the transitions when this happened worked out okay, but in at least once instance, it happened in the middle of dialog when she was asked a question. By the time she came back to the real world several long paragraphs later and answered, I’d lost track of the pending question.
No significant issues.
Rating: *** Three stars