Happy Thursday! I finally had some time to read this week, so I picked a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a while. It looked creepy and mysterious and romantic, just what I was in the mood for!
THE SPLENDOR FALLS, by Rosemary Clement-Moore, was just what I hoped it would be. And written by a fellow Bookanista! Even better!
Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.
Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.
Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?
This book was exactly what I hoped it would be. Dark, creepy, and romantic, haunting and funny, with a great main character, whose voice is consistent and engaging throughout. Sylvie begins the story both mentally and physically "broken" - she's suffered a career-ending injury and her mother's convinced she's not handling it well. And, in many ways, she's not. Somehow Rosemary makes Sylvie's "woe is me" attitude at the beginning more compelling than grating, more engaging than off-putting. The best part of this is it sets up a lovely character arc for Sylvie - she actually gets to grow and change over the course of the book!
It's tough letting your characters be broken at the beginning of a story - it can be scary letting them show their bruises and aches and anger and pain, wondering if the reader will care enough to watch them recover, reclaim their power, grow, change....at least...it's hard for ME to do this. :-) From the beginning, I was with Sylvie for the long haul, and I loved watching her journey.
One of my favorite things about this book was the slow build. The slow build of tension, of romance, of mysteries...it took quite a while to get to the explanations and resolutions but I didn't mind, because I enjoyed the piling mysteries, the building sense of dread. The delayed pay-off was INTERESTING, not annoying. And, as I said, creepy! I actually had a hard time reading this book before bed because it was just spooky enough to make me start at strange noises and moving shadows in the night.
I also loved Rosemary's unique take on the love triangle. She didn't try to make the boys "equal" - the suspense is not in WHO DOES SYLVIE LIKE BEST, but in questioning each boy's motives. In the irony of knowing who Sylvie SHOULDN'T choose - but worrying she might choose him anyway.
And, finally, the sense of place, the lush setting served as a wonderful backdrop to the story. I love books where the setting feels as important as the characters, and this is definitely one of those books.
So, pick up a copy, relax in your favorite chair, and enjoy disappearing into Sylvie's world. Believe me, you'll want to linger there long after you finish reading. :-)