A mystery without a solution. 3/5 stars.
The blurb: Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join “The Rabbit Back Literature Society,” an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, a young literature teacher.
Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as “The Game”? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried start to come to light…
As ever, clicking on the cover image will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.
Lindsay at bookboodle gave me this book. She didn’t enjoy it that much because it was incredibly weird (you can read her review here). Knowing all the fantasy fiction I enjoy, she thought I might get on with the book a bit better than her 🙂
So, did I love it? Not really. One of the quotes on the front cover says “unnerving, enigmatic”: I suspect these are reviewer euphemisms for “muddled” and “baffling”. And this is a shame. Certain elements of the story are intriguing and the whole thing is well-written. But, on the whole, it’s a confusing hodge-podge which comes to no conclusions. As I read, I keep feeling as if I’d find all the answers just over the page… but no. In fact, the blurb poses four intriguing questions; the book only answers two. And, to be honest, “The Game” isn’t really a mysterious ritual. It’s just daft.
None of the characters are particularly likeable, although some of them make up for that by being entertainingly loopy. The Literature Society had the potential to be a fascinating treasure trove of buried secrets. Unfortunately it all gets muddled with suggestions of more supernatural goings-on which didn’t enhance the story. Another disappointment. The idea of books quietly re-writing themselves due to some sort of “book plague” is great and could have been the starting point for a strong plot line but nothing really comes of it.
I don’t really get on with magic realism. But in this book, the magic elements weren’t the problem, it was that they weren’t fully developed.
The ending was also unsatisfying. One big mystery is wrapped up, but others remain. The author admits that he wanted to leave things open to interpretation and was opaque on purpose. He’s gone so far as to write a blog post full of hints if you want to understand a bit more what the heck you’ve just read. I read it and it did help. But should you really need some sort of key to understand a book?!
Overall: if you enjoy being baffled by your books and don’t mind a bundle of well-written crazy, read this.