Review: On Dark Shores, by J.A. Clement
Trapped in fear and poverty after the death of her parents, the thief Nereia will go to desperate lengths to protect her beautiful younger sister from the brutality of Copeland the moneylender. No-one has dared to attempt escape before; the whole of Scarlock trembles in his grasp. Only Nereia’s cunning and some unlooked-for help give her hope….
In a country still recovering from war, events are stirring, and the little harbour-town will not remain obscure for long; but in Scarlock, right now, Mr Copeland is coming to call.
Writing: 3.5 wings
Clement had little problem weaving a sentence: a lot of her descriptions were detailed–even poetic at times!–and helped to create the harbourfront town that the characters live in. It’s the flow of the novel and the constantly changing POV that really weighed down the story. Although each small POV served a purpose (mostly), it would have been better to combine them into longer scenes for each character. Other times the POV would change within the scene, which was even more distracting.
Characters: 3 wings
There are quite a few of them, and fortunately there’s an index at the back if you get lost. The villain, Copeland the Moneylender really reminded me of Shylock (The Merchant of Venice); just in name, however, because that’s probably the last place I heard the term “moneylender”. In personality, he reminded me of FFVI’s Kefka. At times, he’s stereotypically evil to the point of silliness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not sure if it’s the type of villain that the author wanted to create.
As the story goes on, the history and motivations of the characters are revealed. It takes a while for each character to seem unique–the constantly switching POV doesn’t help this. One thing I did appreciate was that when the back-stories were slowly revealed, you could sympathize with every character.
Plot: 2.5 wings
This is not a long book; it could easily be finished in one or two sittings. The beginning really hooked me–especially the poetic writing. As it went on, I found it to be a bit slow…and then the story-arch seemed to disappear entirely. There were a series of happenings that didn’t seem to culminate at all. The plans that I thought were going to be the basis of the plot sort of fell by the wayside/seemed to be interrupted by certain supernatural events that weren’t clearly explained. I guess I was hoping for more structure and a longer narrative so that the story would make a little more sense to me. Otherwise, it was only the poetic writing made me finish this.
Overall: 3 wings
Went in excited, and ended disappointed. Not sure whether I’ll read the sequel or not, but I might give it a shot. For 99 cents, it’s a good example of some poetic word-usage.