Friday, May 12, 2006

The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey

This book starts out with the promise of John Crowley’s Little, Big: a woman who could once commune with spirits walks down a path, gathering lilacs, talking with her townspeople, telling stories and strange asides. It begins with a rich sense of magic and foreboding. Set in Newfoundland in the small fishing village of Bareneed, it is about a town that has all but lost its main industry—fishing cod has been outlawed because of they have started to die off. A fisheries officer and recent divorcee, Joseph Blackwood, and his young daughter, Robin, come to Bareneed for a summer break. But things get strange and spooky straight away. A young woman living next door’s dead daughter appears and disappears in windows and starts talking with and influencing Robin. And soon people of Bareneed become stricken with an illness that causes them to become violent and then stop breathing. And dead bodies from past generations start being pulled intact from the sea. Mythological sea creatures also start to appear.

I wanted to like this book, for its exquisite creepiness and for its writing—which is quite lush at times—but the story just got increasingly long and the premise just seemed too flimsy. It took me far too long to read and I was glad to be done with it when I finished. Somehow it can be more frustrating when you can see how much better a book could have been with some editing or more thought.

1 comment:

jenclair said...

I finally put this one aside somewhere between 200-300 pages. I just couldn't care... Glad to know that, despite the supposedly excellent reviews some books receive, not everyone agrees.