Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review: Gideon by Alex Gordon

Gideon by Alex Gordon

Trade paperback/ E-book 432 pages

Harper Voyager

Release date: Jan. 2015 Gideon is a supernatural thriller that roots itself in the Midwest much like Ray Bradbury’s classic Something Wicked this Way Comes. That is a tightly woven short novel that uses the fall setting in Illinois to create a vibe and feeling of fear that I didn’t find in this novel. When I read the back cover description I was hoping for something in that vein. I am sure that is not fair to the author but that is what the back cover sold me.

Gordon is talented and at times creates moments that I enjoyed. I wanted to like this novel but in the end I didn’t. The novel is the story of Lauren Reardon who lives in Seattle, when her father dies she discovers that there is a dark history in his past. That history connects her to a town in Illinois called Gideon. This town has a history that involves witchcraft, murder and various secrets that make the fictional town interesting.

I can tell Gordon researched the hell out of this book, but the problem for me came in the structure. I was concerned that my problems were “inside basball” problems that only bothered me because of my writer’s sensibility. Howver, those rules exist for the readers too.

The structure to the novel didn’t make sense to me as a reader. The first 7 chapters were basically a 63 page prologue of Gideon back story, part taking place in 1836, and part in 1841. That is a lot of story before we meet Lauren and the actual story begins. I am not sure I would have made it that far if I was not reading a review copy. Those chapters worked but I thought they should have been weaved into the novel as part of Lauren’s path of discovery.

After that the novel gets more interesting , but I never felt the vibe I was looking for. Gordon has a lot of talent and lots of good moments. The problem for me is they happened too far into the text. Those first 63 pages felt like they should have been a 10 page prologue or spread out in the story. I felt the need to connect to Lauren sooner, as a character we can relate too.

I have a hard time giving low marks to first time authors who has shown obvious passion on each page of a book. Certainly in self-published cases I think to myself if only they had the help of a good editor. In the case of Alex Gordon’s Gideon she is published by a major publisher. The acknowledgments list three editors and it is clear this author did her research. So perhaps readers disagree with me. I think in the end this book should get a chance in libraries, because the concept is enough to hook readers who may have different taste from mine.

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