I always hate starting off reviews on a bad note, but I was disappointed by this book. When I first read the summary, I was excited by the Southern Gothic Mystery appeal of it and interested to know how Sterling (um I think that’s her name) was going to save her brother Phineas Harlan Saucier (a name which I remember because it was mentioned so frequently throughout the novel but unfortunately made me think of a bottle of tomato sauce every time – I know, a bit weird of me!) from the Swamp of doom and magic. But, really, the book was a let down. I had a lot of trouble connecting to it, and therefore I had a lot of trouble finishing it. Not even Sterling and Heath’s cute relationship sealed the deal for me.
I think what I found unsettling about the novel is that I found there was very little character development, or that I just found the characters kind of flat. I was hoping that I’d really feel for Sterling and Phineas, but there just wasn’t enough Phineas in the book for me to really hope that he was going to be rescued. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously hoped for everything to work out, I mean I’m not a horrible person, but the novel just didn’t compel me to really care a whole lot about Sterling and her family much at all. Sure, there were moments earlier on in the novel, but as it went on and as I felt more and more disconnected from the characters and the story, I couldn’t bring myself to really enjoy the story. The whole Swamp thing just seemed a little flat and I would have liked it more had it been better fleshed out with such things as The Shine and Leonora May and Fisher and Nathan (though his storyline with Heath was one part of the story that did manage to hit me).
So I’ve said a whole lot of things about this novel that I wasn’t very impressed by, obviously because it just didn’t serve as a very memorable novel for me, but I will say that there were times I enjoyed Natalie C. Parker’s descriptive writing style. There were some cool lines in the book. It’s just a shame they weren’t enough to make up for a pretty boring main character and a pretty dubious plot. Really, it just could have been so much better.