Book Review: Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Title: Annabel Lee
Series: Coffey & Hill (#1)
Author: Mike Nappa
Publisher: Revell
Date: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 363
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): On a farm fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden–a secret named Annabel Lee. Her uncle’s last words before he hid her away: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Review:

Annabel Lee was somewhat interesting read.
It’s a suspense thriller, and I naively fooled myself into thinking I’d read horror (don’t even ask me how I managed to do it, I’ll just blame the cover) so my whole reading experience was similar to the one one would have if he turned on TV thinking he would watch House at the End of the Street, but ended up watching an episode of CSI Miami instead.

However, I enjoyed reading this book.

The story follows three perspectives: Trudy’s, Mute’s and Annabel Lee’s.
Two of them are told in third person (Trudi’s and Mute’s), while Annabel’s was written in first person (later in the story we find out that her perspective are actually pages from her diary).

The story talks about 11 years old girl, Annabel Lee, who’s uncle locked her in the basement (with his dog whom Annabel is afraid of) and gave her an order not to open the door to anyone, not even to him, without a secret code.

We don’t know why Annabel’s uncle Truck did what he did, nor was it done with an aim to protect Annabel, or protect someone else from Annabel.
We get an impression that Annabel is important, even special in a way, but we don’t know why.

Right after her put her in the basement, Annabel’s uncle was killed and Mute witnessed the murder.
Now, Mute’s mission is to keep the girl safe, before bad guys take her. In order to save her, Mute has to get her out of the basement, but he has no secret code.

That is where spouses from Coffey & Hill come in (Trudi and her ex husband Samuel). Samuel got the secret code from Truck years ago, and now all three of them work together to save Annabel.

Nappa’s writing style is solid and although this book reads quickly, the pacing is very slow, with lots of descriptions.

I enjoyed reading all of the perspectives, but Annabel’s POV was my favorite.
She is really smart, educated and patient little girl who gets under reader’s skin so easily.
Regardless, I have to state that I didn’t like how she often sounded like a 30 years old women, instead of like 11 years old girl that she is.

Mute was my best-loved character in this story.

What I liked the most was the relationship between the girl and her uncle’s dog.
It’s development was described so well, and I welcomed how at the very beginning anytime Annabel talks about the dog she calls him “it”, and along as the story progesses, “it” becomes “he”.

When it comes to the bad guy who wanted to take Annabel, his idea was mean, but yet genius at the same time.
I don’t want to sound weird here, but I kind of admired his purpose.

One thing that needs to be stressed is that Annabel Lee is piece of Christian fiction.
To be honest, I am not sure why is that, because I didn’t feel like anything religious was forced in this story (or maybe I am just blind to those kind of things).
One thing that I noticed was that in the basement, among so many books, there was also a Bible.
And once, closer to the end of the novel, Annabel said something about Jesus and his purpose.
It was only one sentence and it felt more like a general thought.

This is the first book in the series, but the story it covered is completed.
In the next book, The Raven, we follow Trudi and Samuel solving another case.
I already have the book in my possession, and I plan to read it pretty soon, while the characters are still fresh in my mind.

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Book Review: Alabaster: What is Most Precious is Also Most Fragile by Chris Aslan

chris-aslan

Title: Alabaster: What is Most Precious is Also Most Fragile
Author: Chris Aslan
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Date: November 18th, 2016
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Maryam is stuck in an abusive marriage, living with her in-laws, in a conservative, toxically religious Middle Eastern setting. A few years back, her father was given a jar of priceless perfume by a dying leper and it seemed as if their fortunes would improve, but then Maryam’s father contracted leprosy and was exiled by the village. Maryam and her brother, Eleazar, and sister, Marta, experience the shame and ostracism this brings. The precious jar that was meant to bring them freedom, but it only seems to have brought destruction. But rumours abound concerning a new doctor; perhaps hope is on the horizon…

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Review:

Don’t let the look of this book fool you!
It is short. It has only 208 pages. It’s dimensions are also not big.
But the story in it is.
It is so rare for me to finish a book and wonder “How come so many things happened in such a short book?”, but it happened with this novel.
I finished this book so satisfied with what I’ve read, because I got so much from those pages, learned things I didn’t know before and remembered things I forgot.

Alabaster talks the story about Maryam. Her life is not easy. Very young she married into a family that does not appreciate her. Her husband is violent and the one person she cares the most for, her father, is banished from the town she lives in.
The reason: leprosy.

The story takes place in time when Jesus walked among peole. It is told in first person, from Maryam’s POV.

First of all, I think it should be stressed out that this is a piece of christian fiction.
Some people are not comfortable with reading that genre, and I complitely understand it.
It is also shelved as woman’s fiction, but in my opinion, this book reads as young adult.

Although Maryam is married and her life is not an easy one, she is very, very young. At the begginging of the story she is only 15 years old.
Her voice and the way she narrates the story gives an atmosphere similar to the one reader has while reading ya.

I read in one review that the reader felt like the author pushes christian faith to readers, but I’d take that with grand of salt.
I mean, this is a piece of christian fiction and Jesus is one of characters in the story (he shows up in last third of the book), but his role in this story is the one of doctor who can cure leprusy.

Alabaster talks more about hard lives of women during that era, as well as how big of a problem one disease caused not only to families, but to whole society at time.

In his writing, Aslan does not shy away.
Women were abused, and he shows it. There are physical abuse as well as sexual insults described in this book. There is no sugarcoating, but the writer knows where there’s no need for more words, because the reader’s imagination does the rest of the job.

This is an emotional story and one can not help but care.
My heart ached sometimes, because of how hard Maryam’s life was.

If you’re christian, you will probably recognize main characters (Maryam, her sister and brother) from the Bible. It took me some time to realize who they were, because their names were changed (the author made them sound more modern, from what I understand).

This was my first 5 stars worth read of this year.
While I was reading, I wondered “How come more people do not talk about this book?”, but then it came to me.
This is christian fiction, and one of it’s cons is that it is not for everybody, nor do all people want to try that genre, christians or not.

Anyway, I am glad I am one of readers who gave this book a chance, because the time I spent on this book was so worth it.

5