Monday, June 1, 2009

Review - Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

published 5/09
345 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.

My thoughts:

River Jordan (can that seriously be her real name? If so, kudos to her parents!) certainly knows how to set a mood. From the first paragraph, she had me intrigued, wondering what in the world this novel was going to bring:

"It was the kind of day when even the lost believed. When possibilities were larger than reason, when potential was grander than circumstance, when the long, dark days of doubt were suddenly cast off and laid to rest. Brushed away with a smile and a certainty. And in this moment, from this place, you knew the real magic could happen."

Reading this book was a little bit like talking a walk when it's humid out - if you've ever experienced real humidity, you know what I mean. Everything moves just a little bit slower, requiring just a little bit more effort, like there's something in the air you have to push your way through. That's how this novel felt to me - just a little bit more effort, like I had to push my way through the words on the page. It felt dense, thick, and at first I didn't know if I was going to be able to push my way through.

Then, about halfway through, suddenly I was completely wrapped up in the story. About the time that all the characters finally get together, it became a great read for me. It still had that humid feeling, but the narrative had finally hooked me enough that I couldn't wait to find out what was coming next.

There were certain elements of the supernatural that, while I understood why the author included them, didn't enhance the reading experience for me, and were probably my least favorite part of the novel. However, I historically don't enjoy those types of plot devices - if you are going to include fantastical elements, just write a fantasy novel, already! - so my opinion on that might not necessarily be the one to listen to.

All in all, I thought this was a good novel. There were aspects that didn't work perfectly for me, but by the end of the story I was happy to have gone on the journey with these characters. The publisher compares Jordan's work to Sarah Addison Allen and Leif Enger, so if you enjoy those authors, you might want to consider this novel.

Finished: 5/29/09
Source: Waterbrook Multnomah
Rating: 7/10


Anonymous said...

I didn't really understand what the book is about from the blurb :)
But, it sounds good to me. And the passage which you copied here was beautiful as well. Glad you ended up liking the book after all.
I don't mind supernatural elements unless it does not spoil the story for me. if it's there without affecting anything, I am okay with overlooking it :)

Zibilee said...

I am not sure that I would like this book, but I do appreciate your thoughtful and honest review.

Becca said...

Very well-written review. I liked that you included parts you enjoyed and parts that you were less enthusiastic about. I have this book on my TBR list. I don't mind supernatural elements to a story, but only if it makes sense in the context of the story, which you say it does. I'm wondering how I will like it. Thanks for the review!

Elizabeth said...

Violet - don't feel bad, I didn't really either. I didn't know it would be magical realism - thankfully, there was just a little bit, so I made it through.

Zibilee - it's definitely not for everyone.

Rebecca- well, I figure I would want to know the same thing from you! I'm not a magical realism fan, so that was the hardest part for me.