19 year old Emylene Stipe is a 2nd generation Goth who, like every teenage girl, is trying to find her place in the world. One winter night she comes upon an old painting in an antique store and feels compelled to purchase it. When she brings it home an image of a young woman appears in the sketch and then magically materializes in the apartment. Emylene nick-names her 'Poinsettia' and they become fast friends. But Poinsettia has an ulterior motive for her sudden and strange intrusion into her host's life which causes Emylene to question her entire belief system. (taken from Amazon description)
Having read another book by Rodness that I greatly enjoyed, I was excited to tuck into this one. Though it had some bright spots, I was disappointed in this book.
Over all, the story has a lot of meat to it. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there's actually a really good story hidden in here. There's the search for identity, lost love, hope, desperation, corruption. There's a wonderful world of witchery and vampires. We have heroes and villains and sometimes you don't know which is which. Had the story been told in a different way, it could have been great instead of just so-so. It could be an epic tale of good vs. evil.
The storytelling is my biggest complaint. We start off with a lot of back story on Emylene. It's very 'once upon a time' but it's also incredibly dull. Had I not read Rodness before, I probably wouldn't have made it past the first chapter. But, I know he's a great writer and a great storyteller...so there had to be something better coming. I was right. About one third of the way into the story, it becomes very Terminator. 'Come with me if you want to live' and all that goes with that. I nearly got whiplash with the change in storytelling, but I was thankful to finally be where Rodness does his finer work. At this stage, the real story actually begins to unfold and I'm finally drawn in.
My second complaint is that I keep finding some pretty amateurish spots. To me, it almost feels like Rodness created the character of Emylene years ago and began to write it, then moved on to something else, then picked it back up and continued on where he'd left off. The change in level of talent is noticeable. I sound nitpicky, I'm sure. There's an entire character and pages devoted to her that have absolutely nothing to do with the story. There are some parts that are just really cliched and could have been changed minutely to have a much better feel for the reader. Instead, I found myself sighing in annoyance. With every character, we go into pages and pages of back story. Shorten it up. Make it more interesting. Most of the back story isn't necessary and doesn't add to the story in any way. It just makes me hate the characters for being so darn windy. There are some parts that are a little difficult to believe. An elderly man from the 'old country' who stays to himself in a dusty antique shop is an Usher fan? I highly doubt it. It's possible, but you haven't given me anything to support that possibility. Then when we're nearing the end, everything is just magically tied up a little too neatly. After that, we have an epilogue. It takes everything I enjoyed about the end of the story and destroys it.
So, while most of my review is complaints, it's also constructive criticism. I know that this author can write, and write well. I know that he can be a compelling storyteller. We actually get a good portion of that in this story, but I wish he'd go back and rewrite it. As it was, the book was just alright. With a few minor rewrites and changes, this could be a wonderful and thrilling tale.
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