When I was a little girl I used to keep a journal, not for normal reasons of course, (I’m way to unconventional for that) but to keep myself from running away. See, while most girls were busy scribbling notes about boys and what dress they were going to wear to the dance, I was busy fighting off evil warlords or exploring sunken ships. My writing was an escape, (it still is actually,) and because of it I was able to face down what I thought to be the more “problematic” issues of my adolescence. (How hard is a Geography test really gonna be after I just escaped from Hurtsalini -the Mistress of the Underworld’s – death grip.) Since my awkward tween days I have stopped journaling, opting for a more “grown up” alternative (compiling the worlds longest bucket list) but regardless of the absence of my little green binder the thrill of creating my own world has never left me.
In Stephanie Void’s novel “Running From Secrets” Bethany (the heroine) takes the world of journaling to a whole new level. Not only does she WRITE the story of her dreams, but after just a few pages, she finds herself LIVING it.
“Bethany has never felt as alone as she feels in Linwood—until she dreams up Chime, a woman on the run because of a magic crime she didn’t commit. The dreams get more and more urgent, so Bethany tries to banish them by writing them down, only to discover she’s stumbled into the role of unwitting controller of Chime’s world.
Chime is real here, and so is the possessed queen, minion army, mysterious professor, Vault Five, wind chimes with a secret code, child’s rhyme that can kill, the naked painting, and other things Chime’s story leads her to.
She has to fix the story without erasing Chime and her world, because if she erases Chime, she will die as well.”
Ok, now…where to start.
I guess the most important thing to get across to you (the potential reader) would be that “I genuinely enjoyed this read.” It was short, (probably a little too short for all of the features, loops and plot structures it combined,) but regardless of its length it delivered on the most basic of levels: keeping me entertained.
That’s not to say I didn’t spot a few issues though.
#1. The transitions needed help.
On more than one occasion I felt myself cringing at the flip between “fantasy” and “real.” Both plot lines were important to the story but the seams connecting the two were choppy and (at times) misplaced. I know I have said this on more than one occasion, but it is important for authors to understand and acknowledge “flow.” If (for instance) your “fantasy realm” is in the middle of a major plot point, and you decided to pull your character back into “real life” with nothing but a # mark, you risk the chance of losing your readers attention. Cleaning up one “run” before starting another is imperative. (I’m not saying settle the whole problem before you move on, just make the scenario solid before you do so.)
#2. There were dialogue hiccups.
Bethany’s manner of speaking took on VERY different rolls depending on whom she was speaking to. In interactions with her younger sister her words came across as grand-motherly and sophisticated, scroll a few paragraphs down (when speaking to a professor or her peers) her words would turn shy, flip the page and suddenly she was assertive and confident (this was around Chime.) With Bethany’s dialogue taking on so many characteristics it was a little difficult to pin down her “true self” (if you catch my drift.)
Overall however, (transitions and dialogue discrepancies aside) I thought the story was interesting, definitely original, and a hell of a lot of fun to read (without taking up too much of your time.)
I think fantasy lovers will appreciate this one, for the rest of you it might be a hit or miss. (aka it reads mostly fantasy with only appearances of reality to break for Bethany’s story structuring.)
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: if you build it they will come.
Click image for complete details.