The Hawkman – Jane Rosenberg LaForge

hawkmanThe residents of post-WWI Bridgetonne, England, are unnerved by The Hawkman, the town’s most enigmatic indigent. This shabby, filthy recluse is harrassed by the local children and berated by the adults. He doesn’t speak, he bothers no one, and yet, the residents, especially Lord Thornton, want him out.

Miss Eva Williams, an American outsider, has taken a position at the local college under the employ of Lord Thornton. She is challenged by Thornton’s notion that the Hawkman should be gotten rid of in order to ensure the safety of the women of the college; however, her efforts are not what Lord Thornton intended. She shows compassion instead of contempt, and that causes quite an uproar in Bridgetonne.

This book is dreamy and mythical, bordering on magical realism. The backstories of both The Hawkman and Miss Williams are revealed gradually,  interwoven with folklore and dark fairy tales to reinforce the motives of the characters.

I enjoyed this book because of its originality and departure from straightforward historical fiction. The atmosphere was believable and yet mysterious. At times the fairy tales arrived unexpectedly, leading to an abrupt change of narrative, and I didn’t understand the purpose or moral of most of them. Regardless, the writing was illusory and fantastical without sacrificing the sober reality of the effects of war.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Amberjack Publishing for an advance copy in exchange for my review.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore – Kim Fu

In The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, five girls camp2out with their camp leader on a kayaking and camping excursion. Their leader decides to push the girls even harder, rowing for a farther, more secluded island for camping. No one from camp knows where they went, and no one from camp knows that these girls are stranded and alone. There is a pivotal point in these characters’ lives that changes the course of their adulthoods.

The novel is told in vignettes, back and forth in time from the adolescent girls at Camp Forevermore and then their later adult lives. Each girl’s story is told in turn. Not all the girls’ adult stories seem relevant to the camp incident, but perhaps that’s the point the author is subtly implying: some girls overcome, and some never recover. I appreciated that the characters were not cardboard stereotypes. The girls have different personalities and come from different backgrounds, and that adds to their experience and also to their suffering on the island.

I enjoyed this novel. The writing is intelligent and contemplative. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore is a story of basest natures coming to the surface when faced with adversity with the follow up of how one trauma can infect people’s minds for the rest of their lives. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.