There is no thief worse than a bad book. ~Italian proverb
Don’t you just hate spending time with a book that disappoints you?
Recently, I read my first novel by NYT bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, and I enjoyed it so much, I grabbed another of hers when I went to the library.
This time, my expectations crashed like the hopes of most people playing their state’s lottery.
The Shape of the Night promised me a haunting tale, one I wouldn’t quickly forget. Here’s part of the cover blurb:
After an unspeakable tragedy in Boston, Ava Collette flees to a remote village in Maine, where she rents an old house named Brodie’s Watch.
In that isolated seaside mansion, Ava finally feels at peace … until she glimpses the long-dead sea captain who still resides there.
Sounds intriguing, right?
But I’d barely read twenty-five pages before I realized Ava was a protagonist I was going to tire of real soon. Her propensity toward drinking herself into oblivion, coupled with an unspecified secret that’s left her guilt-ridden and estranged from her family, made me want to shake her and demand, “Grow up, already!”
A few pages later, she has a physical encounter with a ghost.
Physical? Yes, so the author tells us.
Frankly, I had a bit of trouble suspending belief to accept that.
And Gerritsen milks that encounter for all its worth, with details that made me blush.
Sorry, Author, but you should’ve warned me this book fell into the erotica genre, so I could’ve left it on the shelf.
Another problem is it’s written in first person, present tense — distracting as all get out, and made worse by the proximity we’re forced into with an unreliable protagonist.
Many times, I almost tossed the book at the wall, but the author in me wondered how Ms. Gerritsen was going to redeem herself.
If she could.
I won’t spoil it for those who’ve yet to read it, but briefly:
- Ava has more encounters with the ghost, and they become more intimate
- Ava runs into townsfolk secrecy when she tries to find out about the previous women who lived at Brodie’s Watch
- Ava faces danger all around and questions who to believe
On top of all this, the ending failed to tie up loose ends despite a “one-year later” epilogue.
Maybe that’s what the author intended — to let the reader decide what, and who, to believe.
But this reader is miffed at having slogged through 268 pages when she could, and should, have been doing something worthwhile.