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"The Summer Children" by Dot Hutchison
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Also, the creation of this work of fiction created a maelstrom of emotions in its producer and writer, who took the draft of a manuscript began by her mother, June Guenette, many years ago. After June's death in 1997, the manuscript went to Francis' son and was seemingly lost until a few years ago. Francis took the original seed of an idea and turned it into the page-turning, twisted story of a fictional town in the rugged western regions of the North American continent. But as she took typewritten white placemat pages and turned them into a manuscript, the author suggests she went through her own maelstrom to bring the novel to publication.
If you've read any of the books in the Crater Lake Series by Francis Guenette, be prepared to be as shocked as I was. There are very few likable characters, until perhaps the end. And any compassion felt for some of the younger ones is born of pity and not true empathy. Never will you meet such evil, narcissist folks as the ones who roam and rule the streets of Haddon. I don't usually read books filled with such horribly violent scenes, such as populated the pages of this novel, but because the author created a compelling story, I found myself guiltily escaping back to my Kindle to find out if and when the worst of the worst would get their due.
Ms. Guenette once again proves her prowess as a gifted storyteller with her descriptive setting of the isolated town and its towering castle on the hill, Casa Destino. Long-held resentments and prejudices dominate the action of the novel. The two main antagonists, Sheriff Calder and Mayor Thatcher, dominate the scenes. The man set to inherit Casa Destino after the death of his adopted father, Myhetta, appears to be unfeeling and unemotional through much of the story. But eventually, some redeeming qualities do appear toward the end. But he has been so damaged, as has everyone around him, that it's unclear what fate holds for him. Never have I read a novel filled with so much human depravity. I feel as if I need a very hot shower to wash it all away.
As with the previous review, this novel explores the dangers of bigotry and genetics. It's a lesson in how not to live life. One relationship stands out as one with some virtue, and that's the one between Myhetta and his best friend, Laird. Loyalty above all else withstands all the tests. And the love of a mother for her child shines through in both Myhetta's mother, Ayha, and Laura Thatcher for the son she adopted when she married the mayor.
Myetta and Laura emerge as the main characters, eventually. They change the most during the course of the novel, and for once, it's in positive ways.
Fast-paced and riveting, this novel requires a score card. The characters are many and their intertwined lives require the reader to always pay attention or be lost in the maelstrom.
Settle in for a fabulous read and let go of any preconceived ideas about the residents of Casa Destino and the small town nestled in the valley below it. Your expectations will be wrong yet exceeded in the most unexpected and inspiring ways!! This author knows how to take you for a ride you won't soon forget!
You will fall in love with some characters and learn to hate others and it will happen quickly for the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, are clearly defined leaving no grey area for your emotions to hide!
Sheriff Calder, a cold and calculating man, capable of cruelty beyond comprehension, has been controlling the town by fear, with the help of Amos Tanner, for over twenty years. He considers himself too powerful and intimidating for anyone to end his reign of terror.
Rafael Destino, the Lord of Casa Destino, is working towards ruining Amos Thatcher, financially and emotionally. He holds Thatcher responsible for the suspicious death of the sister he loved and who Thatcher married. Rafael hopes his adopted son, Myhetta, will be able to bring about Thatcher’s destruction before his own death. Myhetta loves Rafael and feels beholden, even though Rafael’s strategy is sometimes a heavy burden.
Maelstrom hit the ground running and didn’t stop. Superb premise, compelling and well crafted story line. The characters are so well drawn and the setting very visual. The story includes, and deals with a lot, including murders, revenge, corruption and cruelty. Family connections are wide-spread, tangled and tricky.
A wonderfully diverse cast of characters make this story memorable for me. Good and bad, they are all well-portrayed and realistic. Myhetta is my favourite, complex and definitely flawed but at heart a good guy plagued by, and struggling with, the weight of responsibility he feels. His back story unfolds throughout and generates sympathy and understanding of how his past, what he endured, shaped the man he has become. Known amongst the townsfolk as breed, because of his mixed ancestry, he had a less than easy childhood until Rafael adopted him when he and Myhetta’s mother, Ahya, began a relationship.
Myhetta does everything he can to negate the Sheriff’s influence and help those he has harmed, most notably, Casey. After he and his friends steal alcohol from the liquor store Calder punishes Casey in a terrible way, which brings him to the Casa Destino and Myhetta.
The title is perfect and fits the story…’a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil’ Two vortexes swirling on a collision course, with Sheriff Calder at the centre of one and Myhetta at the heart of the other. The touch of supernatural with Casey is portrayed brilliantly and the relationship which develops between him and Myhetta is wonderful. Impressive writing and a powerful, captivating narrative, I loved it.
The story of how Francis Guenette came to write this book from her mother’s original, unpublished manuscript and notes is extraordinary. The whole process is explained at the end of the book and is a wonderful account which spans decades.
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Author: Francis Guenette
Star Rating: 4 Stars...Read more