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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the New York publishing houses really do know what they're doing..., December 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Mill River Recluse (Kindle Edition)
Amid all the recent buzz concerning self-publishing and indie authors and digital book distribution, I took a stab at this seemingly `most popular' outcome of this latest trend. Author Darcie Chan, in writing this book, apparently got as far as acquiring a literary agent but was unable to sell this work to a traditional publisher and opted instead to upload it to, I believe, Smashwords, for digital distribution where it subsequently took off. This is great news for would-be authors who face the monumental uphill battle of having to deal with the publishing houses who lord over the would be author's destiny to no end ...now these rebellious and blackguard indie authors, meanwhile, can control their own outcome as far as royalties percentage, book ownership rights, book structure (cover art, print type...etc) and, importantly, content, meaning, most perceptibly, editing are concerned. But ask any author, from the finest on down especially in the literary fiction denomination, and they will assuredly tell you that none of their work goes out without first a thorough battle with an editor. Here, with this work though, Ms. Chan has failed miserably.

I will say that her story and story line was reasonably well thought out, enough so that it was compelling enough to want to complete the reading, but the presentation in most places was so egregious from a literary standpoint that it required skimming through the trite verbeage to get to the point. Although true, first and foremost, the job of the fiction writer is to tell a story and Ms. Chan does this well enough...the reader will find this entertaining enough, I feel, to want to `see how it ends', the most important and non compromising credo of a writer of fiction and one who aspires to have works categorized as literary (and I'm not saying that Ms. Chan's desire is to be the next great literary fictionalist) must go deeper and concentrate on character and scene development. Taking the time to explore her protagonists and letting the reader get to know them and empathize with them while developing nuance and subtleties with both them and the story line takes the work of a talented writer. This story seemingly had the essentials for that type of development but instead the characters came out wooden, one dimensional and the dialogue... oh my god! The good writers do all of this without the reader even realizing it, but when its missing, as it is here time and again, it is so noticeable as to seriously detract from the narrative. I found myself putting down my Kindle and shaking my head many times.

The narrative of course concerns an old woman who's been traumatized, once as a high school student and then again as a young married women who then retreats into herself such that she cannot interact with people or society and becomes instead secluded in a marble mansion high above the town of Mill River, Vermont. An exceedingly kindly soul, we're constantly exported back in time in the story to witness her as she experiences these personal tragedies and how, in her attempted recovery, she meets the local priest while amassing her substantial wealth.

Juxtaposing her late life and death on the present day Mill River, is the essence of the story and the outcome, through some predictable twists and turns, is a pleasant and perhaps tear jerking ending. As other reviewers have said, all the characters get what they deserve...the good guys win and the bad guys lose and it is indeed a heartwarming story. And really there is nothing wrong with that I think...many have said that this is a wonderful book and if you're into that type of genre, I can see where you'd make that assessment.

For my money though, this book should be shelved with the Harlequin romances and PR'd to the readership that devours that type of book. In my view though Ms. Chan displays only a marginal talent for writing and story presentation. I wanted time and again to experience a true small town literary encounter on the order of say Richard Russo's Empire Falls, but was continually disappointed. The only real upbeat thing that I can say about this book is that she deserves kudos for having the gumption to take that courageous step to self-publish digitally. Oh and also the cover of the book is very cool as well.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 29, 2011 4:46:22 PM PST
HyperChicken says:
I marked this review helpful because it helped me fall asleep.

Posted on Dec 30, 2011 6:14:55 AM PST
H Giersberg says:
I found your review very helpful. The title caught my attention and because it it I found your other reviews. It appears to me that you are well read and that your reviews will help me in my book selection process. I will bypass books such as this and go on to the ones you do recommend such as Empire Falls. I only need to figure out now how I can come back to you again and again. Thank you for the time you have spent in writing all your reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2011 8:53:56 AM PST
Ken T. says:
LOL! Amen to that

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2015 12:03:50 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2015 12:05:18 PM PST
Thomas Moody says:
Hey "Hyperchicken"...sorry that my review, that has more than a few words longer than 4 or 5 letters, "put you to sleep"...clearly you are a man of erudite (ooops, there I go again) reading and literary analysis as evident from one of your more insightful reviews:

"it's an ok read. I already thought it was too short only to find that 20% of the pages weren't part of the story, which by the way had some good tension, but nothing that sustained itself for very long."

Yeah, that's pretty heady stuff, full of proper syntax and punctuation and astute analysis sure to outshine any other review that takes a thoughtful, critical look at a work that's clearly inferior (dammit, I keep doing that...that means "not very good, dude"). Perhaps you're just trying to match the ineptness of your opinions with the idiocy of your review page picture...it certainly does match your presented intellectual level.
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