Gr Cleanup Originally Read in July 2011
This novella is very short and appears to be the beginning of a longer piece of work currently being written. It read like an introduction to a story and a rather large cast of characters and didn’t turn out to be very satisfying all on its own and it ended extremely abruptly. The prose is often beautifully written and almost has a dream-like feel to it which I loved and I see a lot of promise here with a little tweaking and expansion, especially when it comes to the characters and their plight. The bones of the story are solid but it jumps around too quickly to get to know any of the characters on more than a surface level and it left me confused far too often for my liking. The chapters are super short and just when I was getting into a characters point of view the story shifted to one of the many other characters. Basically, there was too much going on for me to keep up and it was difficult to root for anyone because I didn’t get to spend enough time with them to feel much of anything at all. Terrible things happen but most of it occurs off-screen and the reader is left with only the surface aftermath. I’m the type of reader who prefers to be in on the action, experiencing the emotions along with the characters, no matter how horrifying they may be. I just felt left out here and longing for more.
Basically the story is about the inhabitants of Scarlock who are firmly under the thumb of a greedy money lender named Copeland. Nereia became a thief when her parents died and Copeland took possession of everything they owned. Her only other option was to become a prostitute. Either way, nearly everything she owns is tithed to Copeland and he keeps increasing the tithe. Nereia fears that now that her younger sister Mary is old enough, she will be forced into prostitution. Nereia will do most anything to save her innocent sister and Copeland uses that fact against her and a gritty adventure ensues when Nereia rebels. Many other characters are introduced, many are interesting enough but as I said the focus is just too scattered to become fully invested in any of them. In the end I found the story too cluttered to fall into and it was a bit of a struggle to finish. In the end, it all feels like trying to recall a hazy dream.