Friday, April 23, 2010

Review: The Gravedigger's Cottage by Chris Lynch

The McLuckies, dad, Sylvia, and Walter, have moved to a new town for a new start hoping to leave their bad luck and overarching sadness behind them. But they've moved into the locally known Gravedigger's Cottage, ironic given their frequent losses to death: Sylvia's mother, half brother Walter's mother, and a veritable plethora of pets. The McLuckies are mostly self-contained, sheltering with each other away from the rest of the world, until Walter welcomes an odd local child into their midst as his friend. It is the advent of the outside into thier home that highlights just how thin the thread that holds them is. The story is told by fourteen year old Sylvia and is fairly unrelentingly dark. The chapters alternate between the disintegrating psychological state of Mr. McLuckie accompanied by the distress of the kids and brief vignettes about each pet they've had and how it eventually, generally accidentally, met its death. There is a creepiness and morbidity to the book that is unrelieved by the easy and redemptive ending because it is too abrupt to banish the feel of the book up to that point.

Although this is a young adult book so I am not the target audience anyway, I found it very difficult to immerse myself in the story and more bothered than anything else by the characterizations. It was hard to be sympathetic towards any of the characters. It just felt off-kilter most of the time. Perhaps the middle school audience for whom I was pre-screening it will be more receptive to it than I was.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I hate it when that happens.... you think a book will be wonderful and it falls flat.

    Thanks for your review :)


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