So I’m sitting here looking at the pile of books I need to review, and I’m thinking to myself that most of them are a bit… unmemorable. So I think I’m going to take the lazy route and combine some of these 3-star reviews into one post. I’d like to get a bit caught up on these reviews so I can start reviewing closer to the finish date!
The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth
This is one that I read about on Amazon or Goodreads and thought sounded interesting. The premise is that there is this group of guys who, back when the Spanish conquistadors first started conquering the Americas, discovered an actual fountain of youth. Since then, they’ve been able to keep themselves alive through the centuries, accumulating wealth and power. Now, in the modern world, their source of the Water is being threatened and they have to try to find a way to replicate it. They hire David Robinton, who is basically a scientific genius, to attempt this. Of course, Robinton has no idea what he is actually getting into.
Meanwhile, the conquistadors have one enemy, someone else who has access to the Water. Shako is the daughter of the chief of the American Indian clan the Spaniards slaughtered to gain access to the fountain, and she has been haunting their footsteps for the last few hundred years, determined to avenge her people. Robinton finds himself entangled in the feud, without even a clear understanding as to what the feud is about.
On the whole, The Eternal World was engaging and exciting. There was a good pace to the story, and Farnsworth does a really good job of muddying the waters concerning who is a bad guy vs. who is a good guy. He also examines some concepts regarding immortality, money, and power that are thought-provoking and interesting. The whole idea of something that can instantaneously heal people, and go on to keep them alive indefinitely – on the surface, it sounds brilliant, something that is obviously a good idea. Robinton believes in the concept wholeheartedly. His sister died of cancer when she was a little girl, and Robinton has devoted his life to pursuing a medical breakthrough that would prevent such tragedies. But as the actual practicalities of what such a formula would mean begin to play out, Robinton starts to question everything he has always believed.
For me, what kept this book from pushing up to the 4-star level was the ending, which felt rushed and a little weird, and while it wrapped up most of the physical aspects of the story, never really gave any kind of genuine resolution to all the moral questions it raised. There was also a lot of violence in this book, and some of it felt gratuitous and unnecessary, like having the one conquistador be this super creepy murdering rapist.
Still, on the whole, it was a decent read, even if its not destined to become one of my favorites.
Any thoughts on any of Farnsworth’s other works? This one didn’t really inspire me to seek any of his other books out, but if someone had one they especially thought was awesome, I would be willing to give it a try!
Belle by Cameron Dokey
This was a fairly average retelling of Beauty and the Beast. While a pleasant story with nice characters, the “twists” to the tale weren’t really interesting enough to push this book’s star-rating any higher. I do like Dokey’s writing, though, and it is always nice to have a B&B retelling where Beauty’s family is actually super nice.
As an aside, does anyone else have a favorite Beauty & the Beast retelling? It’s one of my favorites, and I love seeing all the crazy ways it has been reimagined!
Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl
This was one of those books that I wanted to like a lot more than I actually liked it. Alexandria is a lovely heroine and a nice narrator, but for some reason I just couldn’t get into this story all that much. Given the gift of beauty, dandruff that turns into gold dust, and tears that turn into diamonds – all because she shared her lunch with an old crone – Alexandria goes from poor and uninteresting to being sought after by the rulers of two neighboring countries. Locked in a tower for her “protection” until she decides which of them to marry, Alexandria doesn’t really know what she is going to do. When Alexandria’s geese come to rescue her, her adventures really begin, but it just kind of felt like there wasn’t a lot of point to the story. It’s always awkward to have an escape with no real plan as to where they are heading, so the whole book felt a little random. There were a lot of characters that I really liked, and some funny moments, but it wasn’t the type of book that I felt like I should bother reading again.
Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie
For this novel, Christie set out to show that humans are human through all the ages – and murder is murder. Set in Egypt around 2000 B.C., our mystery centers around a family whose patriarch works as a ka-priest, a man who is paid to maintain tombs and perform certain religious ceremonies at different times. The story begins with Renisenb, a young widow who has returned to her father’s home after the untimely death of her husband.
Christie weaves an excellent mystery here, with suspicion and motivation abounding. It’s an interesting mystery because there is no detective or person leading an investigation, other than the suspicions of Renisenb’s grandmother.
While I really enjoyed this book, as I do all of Christie’s mysteries, I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters, and I had a strong suspicion of the murderer’s identity from the beginning. Still, a solid read with an interesting setting.