Reviewed by: SingleEyePhotos
Approximate word count: 65-70,000
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Alisa Tangredi lives in California with her husband and her dog. She worked for many years as a stage actress, during which time she also wrote novels and some stage plays, although most of what she wrote ended up hidden in a drawer. She is also the author of the psychological thriller Under the Looking Glass. For more, visit her website and a blog.
Where do you draw the line between sanity and madness; between isolation and loneliness? Is the memory of a lost love worth the knowledge that you were guilty of her death? Which is a harsher punishment: a life of isolation and guilt or death?
This book started out rather slowly and a bit predictably, although there were hints of something that wasn’t predictable; those grabbed my attention and kept my interest. The first few chapters alternated between the current time, introducing the reader to Pavel Trusnik; and the mid-1700s, telling the beginning of Pavel’s story. Pavel is an old man – how old is anybody’s guess – and he lives alone in a beautifully preserved Victorian house. No one has come inside or seen him in decades. Yet he watches life go by through the curtains, and steps outside at night to enjoy his garden.
Then the scene shifts to Kevin, a sociopathic, teenage killer, who lives across the street from Pavel, and like Pavel, he watches through the curtains.
As the story goes on, we learn more and more about Pavel’s past and Kevin’s present. And see that when their paths converge, there will be no future.
The author’s pacing was well-done – she kept the reader guessing and wanting to know more. There were moments when I felt that the storyline jumped around just a little too much between past and present and between Pavel and Kevin, but in retrospect, I really don’t see how it could have been done otherwise, and still kept the atmosphere of escalating tension and inevitability. At about 60-70% in the book, the tension really began to ratchet up, and the full implications of Pavel’s grief and guilt started to become evident. From that point on, there could be only one ending to the story. Characterization was well-done, although I can’t really say that I warmed up to any of the characters. All were deeply flawed – some had human flaws that the reader could relate to; others did not. The overall impression was of a Greek tragedy – the actors’ fates were out of their hands, and no matter how they struggled, they moved inexorably towards a foreseen doom.
Rating: **** Four stars
Nice review. I really liked this one myself when I reviewed it on my site.
I'm with you on the characters not being particularly likeable. Luckily, this wasn't much of an obstacle for me.
I really liked your comparison to a Greek tragedy. There was an element of that now that I think about it. The conclusion felt inexorable in some way.
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