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I purchased this book based off the intriguing premise and positive review from npr. I have just over 3 hours to go and still know nothing. And not in a good, "oh the author has been stringing me along" way. More in a, "I am 21 chapters in and nothing of significance has happened" kind of way. I am bored enough that I no longer care what happened to N and the other little girl (I can't even remember her name). Jane, the protagonist, is absolutely infuriating. The only moment she stands up and does anything interesting is only told in flashbacks. The narrator is superb, but she can't save this story. I am disappointed and am pulling a Jane and giving up on it. I do look forward to listening to more of Ms. Hardingham; she is extremely talented.
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This book violates at least 15 of Mark Twain's 18 rules for writing. It is an interesting concept and could have been an engaging story, but the author complicates the tale in every way imaginable (and a few that were quite beyond my capacity for imagining).
Among the primary problems:
1. We don't really know who many of the characters in the tale are until very near the end; and some of those characters serve no purpose whatsoever.
2. Most of the activity in the tale does not contribute in any meaningful way to the progress of the tale.
3. Most of the dialog is meaningless dribble that doesn't serve to develop characters or the story.
4. The story jumps around in time, in location, between the real and spirit world so much that I got dizzy while reading it.
5. Some of the important things are withheld from the reader for so long that the reader must go back to recall why the thing was important in the first place. Some (such as Jane's objective in the story) are withheld forever.
6. I never could have imagined a story that could successfully violate Rule #3, but the author manages to do it in spades. (Mark Twain Rule #3 - The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.)