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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Despite Appealing Pieces, Gothic Family Secrets Novel Doesn't Quite Come Together

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

10-year-old Virginia Wrathmell is glad to be out of the orphanage where she has lived since her parents died, but she's not quite sure what to think of her adoptive home and family.  Salt Winds is a strange, lonely place.  With its remote location on the moors, it feels otherworldly, sad, and somehow, dangerous.  While Virginia's new father, Clem, is warm and kind, the same can't be said of Lorna, her new mother, whose glamorous facade hides a temperament as shifting as the tides.  While she can't quite understand the tension in her adoptive parents' marriage, she knows it has something to do with Max Deering, the charismatic widower who lives nearby. 

With war raging in other parts of Europe, it's only a matter of time before the conflict comes to Salt Winds.  When Clem and Virginia spy a German airman making a risky parachute landing on their beach, Clem rushes to help him.  His kind act sets in motion events that will rock young Virginia to her core and threaten everything she's come to love about the place she's just beginning to think of as home.

The Orphan of Salt Winds, a debut novel by Elizabeth Brooks, features some of my favorite fictional elements—a moody, broody setting; a haunting Gothic vibe; and family skeletons bursting from hidden closets.  Unfortunately, for me, these appealing pieces didn't quite come together to create a satisfying whole.  While I found the story compelling enough to keep me reading, I also thought it was cold, stark, sad, and depressing.  Overall, I just didn't love it.  It turned out to be an okay read, but definitely not a memorable or captivating one.

(Readalikes:  The book's setting and premise reminded me of Kate Morton's novels, although the former lacks the warmth and charm of the latter.)  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a couple F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Too bad this one didn't work better. I had high hopes for this one when I started to read your review. Oh, well. Maybe next book. :)

  2. Oh that's too bad this didn't work. I love the sound of all the gothic elements but I'm not a fan of an overall depressing feeling. I think I'll pass on this one.


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