Five years ago when Lindsay Paulson, a naive college student and talented distance runner, was 18, she was convicted of drug smuggling. Now, halfway through a 10-year prison sentence, she begins having what seem to be dreams, in which she leaves her cell in the night and visits another reality called Trae. Dreaming of Deliverance tells of Lindsay’s experiences both in Trae, where she finds herself among people enslaved by terrifying creatures, and in prison where she tries to make sense of what’s happening in her sleep: Is she actually escaping from prison somehow or is she losing her mind?
When I review books for this blog I don’t often set my notes aside and read the book purely for enjoyment: but that’s what I did with Dreaming of Deliverance, and I’m very pleased that I did.
Ms Chambliss has a very fluid, readable style; I read all five hundred and fifty-four pages of this book in one day, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The typos I found were so minor that they didn’t intrude upon my enjoyment of the story; and I was genuinely sad when I reached the end and had to say goodbye to all of the characters I had come to know.
However (you knew there’d be a “however”, right?), despite my general enthusiasm I do have criticisms: and they mostly focus on the book’s plot and structure.
First off, it’s much too long. It could easily be cut by 20 to 30% without losing any of the plot, and that would improve the already-good pace no end.
There are too many instances where an important issue is mentioned just before it becomes necessary to the plot: for example, the news that Parl had gold deposits, and that Joel could disable the Loche (the terrifying creatures mentioned in the book’s back cover copy above) if he needed to. These things (there were several others) should have been built more firmly into the plot so that the reader could better appreciate the costs involved when such skills had to be used. The reader wasn’t let into the world of the Loche enough, so it was difficult to empathise with them and so understand more fully why they did what they did; and no explanation was ever given for how Lindsay ended up in Trae in the first place, or why she returned to her own world each time she slept.
The storyline involving the prison was unsatisfying: the prison was little more than a box to keep Lindsay and when she wasn’t visiting Trae and a lot more could have been done with this part of the book: I wanted to see some real resolution here, some more tension; and for events on each side of the story to directly affect the other.
In all, then, the good, enjoyable read which could have been even better had the writer improved the plot, made full use of the situations she created, edited far more ruthlessly and thought more carefully about pace and tension. I believe this is a first novel (I might be wrong): if it is then Ms Chambliss has done remarkably well and I look forward to watching her work improve over the years.
“What happens in Vegas…
… doesn’t often find itself captured in prose as vibrantly as it does in Bastard Husband: A Love Story. On her thrill ride through romance, marriage, and divorce, Linda Lou paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to forge a new life as an ‘ageing nymph’ in Sin city.” ~Megan Edwards, Managing Editor, http://www.Living-Las-Vegas.com
A week after I arrived in Sin City, I attended a divorce support group I found in the local newspaper listed between Cross-Dressers of Las Vegas and Friends and Family of Incarcerated People. (And I thought I had problems.) As I sat among a circle of strangers waiting for my turn to share, I glanced at the Absolutely No Swearing sign hanging from the ceiling and thought, this will be a challenge.
“I’m Linda,” I began, “I have no husband, no job, and you people are my only friends.” Everyone laughed at my pathetic truth. ~LINDA LOU
Balancing poignancy and edgy humour, Linda Lou reflects on the troubled relationship that prompted this story and leads readers through a hodgepodge of emotions as fast as a Vegas buffet—from the sadness of a failed relationship and the questioning of her spiritual convictions to the thrill of exploring the neon nightlife and the triumph of performing stand-up comedy for the first time at age 46.
Bastard Husband: A Love Story is a memoir of divorce and life in Las Vegas and although I found it perfectly readable and mostly error-free, I’m afraid that I didn’t warm to the narrator. Some of the scenes she described were terribly sad and her ex-husband’s treatment of her was abusive; and yet she chose to tell her story in a joke-filled style which stripped the poignancy from her words and instead made the book a brittle and uncomfortable read. She also has a habit of hammering her points home, which again reduces the effectiveness of the text; and she needs to brush up on her comma-use to, as she often uses them when they’re not required and so slows her narrative.
It’s so close to being good: but because of the problems I encountered I read just thirteen pages out of two hundred and sixty. I’d like to see this book rewritten to introduce more variety of tone, and then edited stringently. Some more positive scenes would be a useful addition, as would a little more empathy and a little less desperate humour. If that work were carried out this could well become a tight, enjoyable read: but as it is, it’s too slow and laboured, with a constant background of unresolved sadness which made me feel quite uncomfortable.
“I know you don’t see it, but deep inside, I see a girl who is strong, who deeply cares about others and who will fight for what is right. And besides,” he said in a whisper, “You were right… I have been looking for you.”
“This is such an original and unique story…. Christina crafted a beautiful story with a wonderful purpose that involves a lot of the issues that our planet is having today.” -Fantastic Book Review
WHEN SOFT-SPOKEN TATIANA TURNS 18, SHE BEGINS TO EXPERIENCE UNUSUAL CHANGES. Suddenly, she can read minds, sense emotions and move at a speed that far surpasses anything she’s known before. When her physical features begin to change as well, Tatiana tries desperately to keep her new abilities are secret. Amidst tragedy, unimaginable transformations and an unexpected friendship, Tatiana has to learn to reveal the girl hidden behind her Illusions and what it means to face the world in order to preserve not only the forest but her very existence.
CHRISTINA HARNER spent years studying the complexities of culture for her B.A. A lover of all things fantasy, creating imaginary beings and stories in her head, she is thrilled to finally blend her passions for anthropology, nature and the unknown realm of fairies together in this debut book.
This book presented me with all sorts of problems. I found plenty of mistakes and editing issues inside it; and yet I just kept reading and on many occasions I didn’t mark those mistakes down because the writing held my attention far too well.
Don’t get me wrong: it is in need of a strong edit. There is far too much repetition. The writer often takes several scenes to make her point when only one is really needed and this means that the pacing is far too slow and the book is far too long for its young adult audience. There’s a lot of exposition; and there were several instances where although I think I understood what the writer meant she had actually written something completely different. These are all things which could easily be corrected by a good edit and buried beneath all these problems there is probably a very good book, albeit a much shorter one. Despite those problems I read all four hundred and ninety three pages of this book, and I enjoyed almost everyone. If Ms Harner pays sufficient attention to developing her editing skills alongside her writing, she could be a name for us to watch out for in the future.