*I received a copy of this book from the author to review. This in no way influences my thoughts and feelings on my review of this book.*
When I read the blurb of this story, I was instantly drawn to it as it gave the impression of a historical fiction-type read. I found out after starting the book that is only part true. It is historical, in a way, but what stood out to me the most is the writing. It was very difficult to follow a lot of the time. It is written from the point of view of the protagonist, Odessa. She is a simple girl living in a simple town in simple times. She is smitten by Nicholas, a local boy who speaks to her every day at the boarding house where Odessa works. Nicholas is a worker in the local coal mines. When both are of age (Odessa is 18 and Nicholas is 22), things between them move much faster. Certain events take place that force Nicholas to declare his intentions for Odessa. Things do not go as well as these two hoped so they are forced to leave town. During their flee from the town, Odessa (also known as Dessa in the story) learns more and more about the secrets Nicholas has kept hidden, secrets that … unbelievable.
As I mentioned, the writing is what stood out the most to me. I struggled so hard to understand what in the world was going on because reading it from the POV of a young uneducated girl that spoke broken English was really hard. I felt lost for most of the book. Odessa wanted to express what she was feeling and what was going through her mind when she spent time with Nicholas, but it came across as a 12 year old with a first crush on a boy. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions were not described well and it all felt scattered. I found I was skimming those parts of the story, or just skipping altogether. The plot was almost non-existent. It kept jumping from present tense to past tense, and back. The story was not set up properly so that’s why I was confused from the start. The story started in an odd place with no setup, no proper character introduction, no anything. The characters did not develop, they stayed flat and shallow. I never connected with any of them for a number of reasons.
I did not expect this story to have a fantasy element… but it did. Talk about a curve ball. I cannot figure out why it was thrown into the story because it made it completely unbelievable. I checked out of the story when that came into play. None of those fantasy parts were realistic at all. They made zero sense and I kept asking myself why I didn’t DNF the book. I still don’t have a valid answer as to why I read until the end. It did not get better because soon this story was throwing everything into the mix: religion, not believable romance, want to be mystery, you name it – it was here. It just did not jive well together at all. And that ending! What in tarnation! Talk about trying to tie everything up with a nice neat bow. That got the biggest eye roll out of me and there were a lot brought on by this book. I really cannot stand when authors shove major events into just a few pages without taking the time to explain or ease into it through the course of the book. That really did not happen here.
I wanted to much more from this story. It had a lot of potential but things like language, writing style, plot, characters, and descriptions (you know… normal things needed to make a book good) were missing or really bad. I cannot recommend this to anyone because I don’t want anyone to struggle like I did. I don’t want anyone else to have the eye rolls or keep saying, “What is going on?” like I did. Maybe if this book is taken back and re-edited, it may have a chance. But with the way it stands now, it is one that people should avoid.