2008: 149. The Lace Reader

“My name is Towner Whitney. No, that’s not exactly true.  My real first name is Sophya.  Never believe me. I lie all the time.”

The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry

So, my mom lent me this book, which has made a little bit of a splash because it was originally self-published and then a real publisher picked it up and I understand it is doing quite well.  And my mom and I were particularly interested because the book is set in Salem, Ma, which is not very far from where we live, and it is a book that has a very good sense of place, in that it absolutely seems like its really set in Salem.  I always appreciate books that are grounded in a real locale, and that is one of the best parts of The Lace Reader. 

It is not a bad book, particularly for a popular book - it is reasonably well written (which is more than you can say for your Da Vinci Code) and the concept is a pretty interesting one.  It concerns a girl named Towner, who has run away from Salem and her family there to escape her family’s tortured past.  And both Towner and her relatives have a bit of psychic ability (they read the future in lace patterns, which is something Barry made up for her novel, but is pretty clever), and that plays off the whole Salem witch thing, which is clever.  Where the book falls apart is in the ending - the book is building to a pretty interesting conclusion, with a lot of interesting plot threads, and then the reader is hit with a one-two punch of 1) a ridiculous Frankenstein-style mob scene that is frankly unbelievable and 2) a Sixth-Sense style twist that just does not bear close examination - a twist only works when everything snaps into place and we go “AHA”, not when you look back at the book and keep asking, “but if that is the case how could X have happened? or Y?”.  It’s too bad because I was enjoying the book up until the ending, and then it just lost me.  HOWEVER, it was still a pretty good read, and I’d recommend it in, say, trade paperback to read at the airport.  Just don’t expect too much.


Date/Place Completed: 10/15/08, D.C. (in the middle of the night, while Nate ate)

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017