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Walking the Labyrinth Kindle Edition
“Walking the Labyrinth [is] a modern morality play that says much about what it means to live, love and learn. Along the way, Goldstein confronts us with bold truths, as well as enchantment.” —Locus
“The writing in this novel is magical, subtle, multi-layered and deep.” —The Palm Beach Post
About the Author
Goldstein has worked as a proofreader, library aide, bookseller, and reviewer. She lives with her husband and their overexuberant Labrador retriever, Bonnie, in Oakland, California. Her website is www.brazenhussies.net/goldstein.
- ASIN : B00N2CLVJC
- Publisher : Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 21, 2014)
- Publication date : October 21, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 1375 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 254 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,150 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story somewhat toggles between the present (which, I think, is in the 90s somewhere) and past but the only pure flashback is at the beginning when we get to see the moment with the reporter backstage after a show the Allalies all put on. Everything else is pseudo-epistolary but not really because Molly and, usually, John, the private investigator, are reading something outloud to each other so it’s only a rather awkward info dump as opposed to a more seamless jump on the timeline. And they could have worked as flashbacks too. Just fine. But they weren’t used like that so instead of being immersed in the history it’s story time and you’re being read to. Kind of annoying.
Molly really isn’t a very well-developed character. Her interactions with people are forced and awkward. She doesn’t seem to have any social norms down regarding behavior. I don’t know if that’s a purposeful socially awkward/oblivious person or she’s just not written very well but she just doesn’t have the flow of a normal human being. She’s put in this story to serve a very specific purpose and it’s very obvious that’s the case. She is a chess piece being moved by the author throughout the story and Molly, as a character, isn’t allowed to just be. Because of this her interactions with everyone: her aunt, John, the Allalie family, are all cringe-worthy and contrived and don’t make for fluid reading at all. Her questions are too specific, too exact, too well-timed. Nothing was allowed to play out naturally.
Nowhere more than the end was that any more obvious as everyone converged on a single place, the villains, the good guys, the rest of the estranged family, and each layer of the onion was methodically peeled back to expose what the whole story’s been leading up to. It was too neat, too set up, and it left me feeling little to anything about the ending. And seriously, I think Molly ended up dating her cousin. That whole smear of family at the Allalie house was confusing but I’m almost positive her little love interest there is a distant cousin and she knows it. Goo.
What the author did do well was describe the magic, from the acts themselves to the ambiance around the people to a simple facet that wasn’t so simple after all. She nailed that. She made the Allalies seem ethereal and magical and maybe they existed and maybe they didn’t and the aura around them was just perfect. That’s where all of her focus seemed to be, was making those people seem as fantastical as they were supposed to. And it worked.
What also worked were the historical parts of the story. Even though they weren’t proper flashbacks the tone and the setting Goldstein meticulously set up was vibrant and far outshone anything happening in present day reading. The meetings and the people and the Labyrinth itself were all so much more realistic than anyone flopping around in the present day Bay area, pretending at being real people.
WALKING THE LABYRINTH ended up being a really disjointed story where certain aspects had all the effort while the rest of the story had none, or next to none. It made for an inconsistent read with characters I just didn’t care about as they questioned and conspired and pushed the story forward to its ultimate end. It’s not that Goldstein can’t write people or can’t write a cohesive plot, I just think she’s better at some people, and some scenarios, than others and it really showed here.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Between “OK” and “I liked it.” I very much enjoyed the magical/illusion aspects in this book: the concept of the Labyrinth, questioning people and their motives, “taking a new turn” when you learn something new, and how just about anything could be turned into a lesson—often not the most obvious one. The Order, done partly through the journal of one of its earliest members, had one of those late Victorian flavours that I tend to like. Secret societies, people trying to get a glimpse of mysteries through communing with spirits… And power, the “Gift” passed from parents to children in the Allalie family, something that could be used for good (for instance, whether it was on purpose or not, Dodd did stop drinking after that night in the prologue), but also for less than shiny endeavours.
The writing itself was fairly good, and managed to evoke vivid imagery of the magic shows in the 1920s and 1930s (or at least, what I’d expect magic shows to be like). The antics, relationships, tensions and weirdness of Molly’s family were easy to grasp, and definitely interesting.
What prevented me from enjoying this story more were the characters first and foremost. While the premise was intriguing and fascinating, I couldn’t connect with any of them. The Allalies were too shrouded in mystery and half-lies to feel like actual people, and Molly often struck me as bumbling around without any idea of what she was doing: not in terms of investigating (after all, she wasn’t a private eye or a cop, so it made sense she wouldn’ have such reflexes etched in her), but as a person. Maybe it’s just me, but from the beginning, her behaviour when Peter was concerned just made me feel like smacking her to put some sense into her. This made it harder to reconcile with how she evolved towards the end, going from clueless to maybe too resourceful.
There were also a few instances of characters popping out of nowhere, more as plot devices than as people: the man in England, the people from the Order… Their roles didn’t feel really defined, and they would’ve deserved more spotlight in order to look like they had a place of their own in the story. Same goes for clues that appeared without enough groundwork having been laid beforehand. This ended for me as a strange mix of predictability (the Allalie’s family name was so obvious) and “wait, what, where did that come from?” reactions. The story tended to plod, and there were moments I found myself reading in the hopes I’d get more out of it, rather than because I was genuinely involved in it fully. The journey mattered more than the ending, but I wished said journey had streamed more seamlessly, without the constant feeling of being driven by plot devices.
Overall: worth borrowing, but maybe not buying.