Book Review – Church of Marvels – Leslie Parry
Book: Church of Marvels
Author: Leslie Parry
Year of Release: 2015
Read 308-page hardcover edition in November 2016.
In three separate narratives taking pal e in New York at the turn of the 20th century, we see a variety of strange occurrences and interesting characters begin to come together over the course of several days. First, a man named Sylvan finds an abandoned newborn baby while cleaning pit privies at dark. Secondly, Odile has come over the water from Coney Island to search for her sister Bella, who has mysteriously taken off and left the cirus where they both work. Thirdly, a young woman named Alphie wakes up in a frightening insane asylum, and tries to determine why her mother-in-law and husband sent her here, and how she may be able to escape.
As the three stories develop, we start to learn frightening truths and begin to see how three separate stories converge together.
This novel had some definite successes for first time novelist Parry. First off, she did a fantastic job of creating some truly frightening scenes in the asylum. The asylum scenes were creepy and disturbing, creating a tone that fit the feeling of this dark novel perfectly.
Furthermore, there were a number of main and secondary characters in this novel that were unique, interesting, and worth exploring. Parry did a great job creating a complex storyline that brought them together in unpredictable ways, and adding some layers of diversity and thoughtfulness to the story.
However, a downside to this complex story was that at times the narrative moved forward in a slightly slow fashion, taking away from the page turning feel that appeared particularly in the ending sections of the novel.
Parry did a great job illustrating the setting of New York City in 1900 in her writing. There were some very descriptive moments where we could definitely picture what was going on and how things looked at this time.
The closing of the novel was interesting and complicated, which made sense given the storyline we had read. In some ways it left the reader a little bit unsatisfied as there were many characters who needed some time for a closing, and not all of them had adequate time for us to see what had happened to them. Also, the closing particularly for one of our main characters seemed surprising and didn’t feel right after everything that had happened.
Overall, this was an interesting, dark novel, if not one that had some flaws with pacing and some inconsistency.
Overall: 3 stars out of 5 stars