Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book started strong with an interesting mystery at the heart of it — well, actually several mysteries that branched from a single incident.
I enjoyed these characters, but the second half fell flat to me as the mysteries started getting answered. The revelation of Alphie’s “big secret”, especially, didn’t sit right with me — it was trope-y and felt like it was there for shock value — and from the minute her secret was revealed, the book began relying heavily on exposition, as though to say, “You see, this is how it happened, and I would’ve told you earlier, but I couldn’t, because story structure.” It made for unsatisfying resolutions. Alphie and Belle’s story is basically left unresolved except for an epilogue infodump which has to work overtime to make up for the pacing/secrecy issues in their earlier chapters.
Odile and Sylvan’s story felt like they had the best pace and a kind of a closure by the end. Still, there were elements that felt like they didn’t get enough buildup to entirely earn the ending. That said, I still like their endings, for its emotional resolution qualities.
Overall, an enjoyable book, but it doesn’t really stand out from the gazillions of good literary fiction books out there.