Review: The Light Between Oceans

This book was lent to me and I wasn’t incredibly excited to read it.  But it is different from the types of books I normally read and since I am trying to broaden my horizons a bit, I thought I would give it a try.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is set in post WWI Australia.  The main character, Tom Sherbourne, has just returned from the war to his job as a lighthouse keeper.  He is posted to Janus, an extremely isolated lighthouse almost half a day’s boat ride from any town.  While on shore leave he marries Isabel and over the years at the lighthouse they suffer two miscarriages and a stillbirth.  After the final stillbirth a boat washes up on the island with a dead man and baby inside.  Tom wants to report the incident but Isabel convinces him to keep it between the two of them just for the night and report it the next day.  Well, the next day turns into years and Tom never reports it.  The couple pass the baby off as their own.  Several years later when they are on shore leave they discover that the mother of the baby is still alive and looking for her child.  The rest of the novel details the disagreements the couple have over the situation and the decisions they are forced to make.

I liked this book.  The characters were interesting and once the baby showed up on Janus the story was very compelling, especially towards the end.  Despite their flaws Tom and Isabel were my favorite characters.  I found the baby’s biological mother, Hannah, to be very unlikeable.  But then I felt guilty about not liking her because it seemed like we were supposed to be on her side.  The end of the book was very sad and this is one of the few times I have cried at a book (the last book I remember crying at was Marley and Me).  However, I found the ending to be pretty unsatisfactory.  The characters were in such an impossible and sad situation though, so there really was no way it could have ended that I would have been happy with.

Format: Paperback

Price: Free! (borrowed from a friend)

Genre: Historical fiction

Lost in that story? Yes!

Review: The River of Souls by Robert McCammon

The_River_of_Souls_by_Robert_McCammon

The River of Souls, McCammon’s fifth book in the Matthew Corbett series, takes Matthew out of New York once again and down to the Carolina Colony outside of Charlestown.  After not taking on any “problem solving” assignments for quite a while Matthew is forced into a seemingly easy task – accompanying a young woman in Charlestown to a dance and being paid quite the sum by her father to do so.  Matthew finds it odd that they need to pay so much, and search so far away, for a date but surmises it is because this woman is so ugly she cannot find a date closer to home.  Of course, if this were true the book would not be particularly interesting.  It turns out that the young woman is essentially being stalked and her stalker, Magnus Muldoon, keeps challenging anyone else who pursues her by either running them out-of-town or murdering them.

No such thing, of course, happens to Matthew and he is able to use his intellect to humiliate Magnus into leaving town for good.  If this seems slightly unbelievable, which it is, you have to suspend disbelief just one more time as Matthew decides to track Magnus down and turn him into a gentleman for no particular reason.  It is once Matthew reaches Magnus’ house that the story begins to get interesting.  On a nearby plantation three slaves are accused of killing of killing the master’s daughter and escape up a supposedly cursed river, with the towns people, Matthew, and Magnus in hot pursuit, seeking either reward money, justice, or truth.

Once Matthew sets up off the river the story really gets interesting.  Like the rest of the Matthew Corbett series Matthew is placed in a series of life threatening situations that seem next to impossible to escape.  It is compelling reading to see just how he saves himself, yet again.

I had high hopes for this book when I began reading it.  My favourite book in this series (and one of my favourite books ever) is the first book, Speaks the Nightbird, so I thought leaving New York might bring the series back to its former glory.  Unfortunately, that was not to be, I still enjoyed The River of Souls, just not nearly as much as I hoped.  In order to drive the story forward one must make a couple of leaps of faith, believing certain plot points as plausible when they actually make very little sense.  Oh well, I am willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of a good story.  The story drags a bit until the murder happens and then it becomes a much more compelling read. I did enjoy the recurrence of three characters from earlier in the series, one whose appearance seems pretty insignificant, one who I hoped was dead, and one of whom may be very important in the next book of the series.

Overall, the book was pretty good, but not as great as Sings the Nightbird (but what is, really?).


 

Format: Hardcover

Price: Free! (from the library)

Genre: Historical mystery

Lost in that story? Towards the middle of the book.