Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gossamer: A Story of Love and Tragedy – review

Author: Lee Thompson

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: An ancient witch, Dorothy Good, has lost everything to the vampire who has blown in on the hot desert wind and lain waste to her soul and her town. When a young family arrives at the end of a two week battle, she sees a chance to end the bloodshed and possibly regain a portion of what was stolen.

But they're heavily outnumbered and night is falling...

The review: Lee Thompson sent me an e-copy of this for review and, as I started reading, I was struck by two things. Firstly how richly evocative his use of prose was and secondly idiosyncrasies, details that threw me out of the rich prose. I want to start the review with the negative – as a constructive criticism – as the rest of the review will be glowing.

The first part of the book is set in 1692 Salem. It tells the story of a false accusation of witchcraft from the viewpoint of Dorothy Good who was, at that point, five years old. It was the mother of Dorothy who was accused – though in truth Dorothy and her Aunt were witches. However the occasional word cropped up. A policeman is mentioned – he would have been a watchman perhaps, but not a policeman. A tin of peaches is mentioned, canning wasn’t invented until the nineteenth century. Matches are used (again not invented) and panties thrown… I don’t want to seem pedantic but the incongruity of these words in the seventeenth century setting really did throw me out of my suspension of disbelief and I suspect the shock of emergence was increased due to the depth of immersion.

As I say, it was a shame because the prose, otherwise, were superb and the story follows Dorothy's turmoil in Salem until she and her aunt travel across the US wilderness to escape civilisation and then, as pioneers come, create the town eventually named Gossamer. Without spoiling too much Dorothy builds a contraption that uses magic to make the townsfolk immortal. This all goes wrong when a vampire comes into the town and Dorothy sees her town (and her love) fall apart. Soon all the town – including a mysterious magical boy called Peter – are vampires (though Peter is different somehow).

Into this come Angel, his fiancée Brooke and her teenage daughter Natalie - agents of modern life subsumed into the magical town. Lured from the highway and into Gossamer and prevented from leaving, they become pawns in Dorothy’s attempt to take her town back.

With the vampires we have a feral, snarling horde (bar Julian, the main vampire, and Peter). They hibernate during the sunlight hours and… well, you know what, I don’t want to spoil the book by revealing too much lore as the novel is well worth a read.

Thompson's evocative prose thrusts you into a dust bowl world were nothing is as it seems. There is a real sense of magic flowing through the story but it is earthy and thick not ethereal and wishy-washy. My initial criticism aside (and all that needs is a mild edit really) this was a haunting , beautifully dark novel. 7.5 out of 10.

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