Monday, May 28, 2012

A Sound Among the Trees - a Multnomah review

A Sound Among the Trees, a Christian historical fiction novel by Susan Meissner, is a book about a house and a family that has survived its antebellum roots, but not without its share of sorrow and mystery.

This is a book that is written quite interestingly. A fair portion of the book is spent "showing" the letters of an ancestor of the family who was touted for having been a spy during the Civil War. Susannah Page had lived her share of tragedy, and her great-granddaughter Adelaide felt like the house was cursed because of what had happened there. Because of Adelaide's ancestry line, the "curses" simply continued throughout the years, leaving the family to continue its struggles with tragedy and sorrow.

When Adelaide's deceased granddaughter's husband remarries and brings home his new wife Marielle, Marielle began hearing rumors about the house and its former inhabitants right away. Through one of the Old Blue-Haired Ladies, Marielle learned that a seer (clairvoyant) had been at the house and had proclaimed that Susannah's spirit still haunted the house, exacting restitution upon all of the women who continued to live at Holly Oak. While Marielle is getting moved in, she finds herself interested in knowing the story and seeks to find answers.

I liked how the author was able to throw the letters from the Civil War into the storyline. It felt joined together very nicely. This isn't an easy task to undertake, but Meissner did a wonderful job adding that to the story.

While I found the writing of this book to be really wonderful--engaging, even--there was something missing that I can't quite find words to explain. For one, I didn't feel like the characters were fleshed out remarkably well. I didn't feel a connection with Adelaide--in fact, her character was an annoyance to me. Marielle's character seemed flighty and disconnected, and I just couldn't find myself relating to her at all. Her husband Carson was merely a secondary character that didn't have much involvement in the story at all. There was the use of a seer (clairvoyant, medium, etc.) that, to me, added nothing to the story.

In spite of being published under a Christian publisher, there was nothing overly Christian about this book. There was a talk of the "spiritual" life, but nothing overwhelming or even much noticeable.

The story felt very somber all throughout, and it wasn't until the very last two or three pages that I felt like there was some resolution there, but even then I've left the story feeling a little dejected.

I really feel like this story could have been better served as a traditional historical fiction novel. Wow, that would've rocked! But since it wasn't, I would have liked to have seen more interaction with Carson, more of Susannah's story (that really intrigued me), and generally more fleshing out of the family members. It felt like historical fiction novel that was forced into a contemporary story.

I received A Sound Among the Trees as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

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