Dark Hour – Ginger Garrett

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Synopsis (From Goodreads):

A long time ago, women bent on exercising their wit and prowess in a kingdom not their own made treason and murder fair game. Marriage became manipulation, a means to an end. Children were the enemy. And the days of the House of David were numbered–unless one woman could find the strength to conquer them all.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars – A good one-time read. (This is the first of a trilogy)

My Review:

Dark Hour is a typical scandal-among-the-royals story. All the tragedy stems from inside the palace, and most of the manipulation is spurred by one, hateful character that is hellbent on securing the throne to their benefit. The main character, Jehoshebet, plays less an active role than I had hoped. I had thought she would be more heroine-like, but she comes out more as a survivor. I’m not entirely disappointed by this because of the book’s roots, though (more on that later).

The characters are well crafted, their personalities are very different, and consistent. I can see them as real people (and they are based on real people, but that makes the character building territory all the more treacherous!). This is crucial, particularly because the characters are numerous and their names are so foreign that you can mix them up quite often as I did in Dark Hour. Their unique personalities helped me recognized them, and thank goodness, or I’d have really been lost.

The story is well crafted and the plot is thick, but it is a bit wordy. I think many paragraphs could have been cut out and I wouldn’t have lost anything pertinent to the storyline or character development. What really sold me on the book, believe it or not, is the explanatory bit at the back where the author shares where her inspiration came from. She wrote Dark Hour based off of brief tidbits of scripture from the bible.

The sheer magnitude of research the author must have faced and the amount of effort she must have put into this book impressed me all the more. I definitely recommend the book, and the author as well.

My overall impression is that the book is a brilliant tale, but perhaps too wordy for those just dipping their toes into the biblical fiction pool. If you’re a bookworm, though, hit it!

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The Winter People – Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars – Worth re-reading

My Review:

The Winter People is eerie. The synopsis is misleading in that Ruthie isn’t as great a focus as it makes her out to be. There are several other characters the book goes in depth with, enough for me as a reader to feel more connected to Sara Harrison Shea and her husband, Martin than to Ruthie and her little sister Fawn. The book could be tagged as horror, paranormal, historical fiction, and mystery.

Many of the main characters are women and I like that. Only Ruthie and her mother Alice appear as heroes, but most of the action is driven by women and it was fun to compare these characters of different ages and backgrounds. There’s a Native American, and a rich girl who has luncheons with her friends and then hosts seances with them afterwards.

The book is partly in diary format and well organized. I wish there were more entries by Sara Harrison Shea. The author won my respect when the spooky little legends mentioned in the beginning of the book are explained and make sense within the context of the story by the end. There aren’t any loose strings, and if there are plot holes the story was written so skillfully that they didn’t pop up in my face and throw me off while reading.

My overall impression is that the book is brilliant and I wish it were several hundred pages longer. I’ll be re-reading it in the future.