My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sarah Waters wrote one of my favorite books--Affinity--and I have read every novel she's written. Some are more successful than others, but one thing Waters excels at is writing emotion. Her novels are character driven, and in general, the emotional tension drives the plot. This is true of this book as well. I have read several reviews that say the beginning is a bit slow, and the last half moves at a breakneck pace, but I have to say that my experience was exactly the opposite. I read the first 200+ pages in one sitting. I think Waters did a stunning job of building the relationships, as well as building tension. But when the main incident happens--the thing that drives the rest of the book--I found myself losing steam. Perhaps it was too familiar.(SMALL SPOILER, if you've read nothing about the book): I think I might be getting tired of court cases and murder suspects and everything therein. In any case, while I didn't quite lose interest, I was less enthralled. I wanted something more unexpected. I kept expecting a twist. But Waters is more interested in exploring the ways in which relationships are tested and how they recover--or don't--and that is what she does here as well, and quite effectively. I actually did like the ending, but because I was expecting something more, it lacked gravitas for me.
The book is well paced--mostly, and the characters well-defined and interesting. That I wanted a bit more is perhaps more my fault than hers. A solid B.
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