I received a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After her daughter goes missing, Rose leaves the sanctuary she made for herself in Cornwall and heads for sweltering slums and chaos in Kolkata, India. Initially overwhelmed, and frequently brought to her knees, Rose finds herself growing to love the Dalit community she finds herself part of. As our heroine discovers, no matter how far you travel, your baggage goes with you. Trouble at home and abroad bring her to the brink of an impossible choice between her daughter and the Indian children who need her.
Outcast opens in Penzance, Cornwall and moves early on to India. No matter the setting, the author portrays it well and you can almost feel yourself there, immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells.
While the narrative is descriptive, with a good plot and pace, the writing falls into excessive passivity and overuses filter words (knew, saw, heard, etc.,). Also, sentences fail to develop fully, as in: ‘The saliva-gleam of a tongue stud.’ This follows a line of dialogue, and isn’t linked to anything. On its own, it doesn’t make a complete sentence. Nor does, ‘Leaned against the wall for balance then pushed the animal with the sole of her sandal.’ While sentence fragments can be used to good artistic effect, they need to be sandwiched between connected statements to work, and neither of these examples are. Then I would come across a line that I loved for its simplicity, like: ‘Grief that lurched in waves, threatening to submerge her.’
Hiccups aside, I love that the author uses the sense of smell to bring her scenes to life. This is one sense that a lot of writers forget about. Also, the narrative achieves a healthy balance between description and letting readers imagine it for themselves. Throughout, the story-telling feels authentic and believable. I have to note how much I adore the book cover: awesome! Had I seen this on a bookshop shelf, I would have picked it up for a closer look based on the cover alone.