Unfortunately I gave this one a 2.0/5 stars. Usually I don’t finish books that are on that trajectory but hoped this one would redeem itself. It did not.
I recommend this to readers who like detailed prose about setting, distributing and traumatic reads & slower development.
Here’s my live thoughts while reading:
Chapter 1 starts out in 1885! I love that it’s set in Paris. We quickly learn of a hypnotist or doctor trying to cure a madwoman from her hysteria and are also introduced to their “assulym” facility. I’m not sure who the main protagonist is yet, Louise or Genevieve. But it’s clear that society no longer views these woman as humans.
It seems as if Genevieve has lost a sister, possibly to a mental illness…? But she has written her letters over time and the second chapter starts with the date that the previous letter was written.
But it’s not in Genevieve’s point of view, but from someone new, Eugenie, who- surprise surprise- wants to be seen as more than a possible wife to marry off.
Eugenie has a special gift though, she can hear and see the dead. They have come to her for years but she keeps it a secret to not be thrown into an institution.
Half the prose are eloquently beautiful when describing the setting but the other half are long winded. The interior formatting is burdensome because an entire page is often one paragraph without breaks. Also I’m unsure the purpose of the story. Who is the main character. In the middle of a chapter I’m being thrown into a new place with a new person- Theophile.
I’m a bit tired of the recurring theme that woman are worthless. Yes, it was accurate in history & is still an ongoing battle for equality but can’t we as authors try to change the perception of society by writing a different story and way of representing the female population by modeling what we deserve. I shouldn’t be complaining since this is historical fiction, but it’s still frustrating. Why do authors keep choosing to write about how the life as women suck instead of changing the narrative so the younger generation has more examples of standards to strive for.
The body shaming, the sense of “this is your fault,” and the lack of trigger warnings for the rap scene are concerning. I understand this is history, but it really turns me off to try to continue reading. I’m a woman, I know what it’s like to be nervous in an alley and have to wonder about things I shouldn’t for my safety, I don’t need to be told again and again in novels. Yet at the same time, writing is a form of art and emotional processing and because so many women go through similar situations, it could be a way for authors to decompress and express their stories through literature. But if that’s true, then we live in a sad world because of how many rape scenes there are in books. It’s exhausting.
At the halfway point the only part I like is the paranormal aspect. Otherwise I’m not connecting to the characters and just feel disgust that one feels safer in an asylum compared to ‘freedom’ within a society of men.
I like the concept of the Spirit’s Book and the internal debate Genevieve is going through but the whole situation sucks. I’m just angry reading this and am glad it’s a short novel so it’s done soon.
What is the point of Louise’s story? There is no growth or change, just relived trauma.
In the end I felt depressed and kind of regretted buying this one. Sorry for being harsh.