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Too long descriptions
on 8 March 2017
This book had a lot of interesting ideas, and has a very similar atmosphere as the beautiful TV-series "Penny Dreadful" for those who saw that. What I did not like was the writing and execution. The author spends a lot of time describing details that are at times completely irrelevant, and forgets to mention those that are. Some of the descriptions are very long sentences, a bit hard to read, and focus too much on how things look. Very little happens in very many words, and at times it was mostly boring.
At times I did not know who the main characters in the story was. It may be an attempt to try to write from both sides of the story, but instead I ended up a bit uninterested. It all seemed like a lot of drama and a lot of words for very little actual content and action. I prefer a story where I connect to the characters and the descriptions are secondary, not where the characters are just there as a part of the scenery.
For a book heavily focused on a hidden society, there was very little about this hidden society. What do they actually do?Why is it so important to be exactly 5 of them or more? During the course of the book they only dealt with a very limited number of the "evil" supernatural, and far from all of characters in the society were involved. I also never quite understood what they were in fact protecting, or what the consequences would be should they fail.
The characters are very naive and simplistic. We never quite know what to think about Lucy, as she's so full of that mystery they mention. The others are supposedly very talented, and yet they all fail miserably in all they set out to do. It's almost as if they either lack experience or don't actually match the descriptions of their skills at all. For some reason Lucy only speaks French in the beginning. Many of her quotes are never translated. I'm not sure if the author expects us to understand it, or wants to emphasise some point, but I found it unnecessary despite understanding most of it.
The only character I really found to be interesting was a smart and manipulative female in a circus, but we never got a conclusion about her initial interest in Lucy. Was it only pure manipulation? I expect I'd have to read two more books to get any conclusions, but I'd prefer not. And then there was an attempt at a love story mixed into the mess. For some reason two of the people who had spent most of their time together for decades and clearly are in love, do not know they are. But all the others do. This was unbelievable. Seeing it referred to as an "epic love story" in the interview at the end of the book (by the interviewer), seemed in my opinion wrong.
In the interview at the end of the book, the author hints to his own cleverness by mentioning all the referenced real-life people used in the book and actual historical figures. As a non-English person, I did not recognise any of them, and the way he assumed we would implies I may be outside his target group of readers. I am just not that familiar with old London, and would thus not see such Easter eggs. And while using a lot of references and historical facts can help get a nice world and scenery, it's not necessary to include every single detail at all times.
I did put down this book quite a few times, but in the end I managed to finish it. It was not a bad book, it was just OK and not for me. It had its major flaws, and some interesting ideas at times. I expect a shortened version (or film adaptation) would have been better. I will not read the sequels.