AUTHOR: Andrew Miller
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Gothic, Literary Fiction
RATING: 5/5 Stars
A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting Priests.
A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love...
A year unlike any other he has ever lived.
- Miller's writing style. It is just so simple and flows beautifully. I find often with Historical Fiction that authors will try too hard to make it sound 'old'. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it just becomes hard to understand. This is not the case here. Miller is writing from 1875, and yet there is a certain modern touch that makes for much easier reading (without being patronising). You can still tell it is set from a period long ago, and in France no less, but I loved how easily I could understand the plot.
- The characters are wonderful. I liked the Engineer, whose thoughts on the action we see most of all. I wanted him to succeed, and the characters that he met along the way I liked too. They were all big characters that stood out and were easy to remember, as well as being a lot of fun to read. Despite the French names, I knew exactly who was who most of the time.
- The imagery in this book is just fantastic. Miller is so clever in his comparisons, and his descriptions of Paris, of Les Innocents (the Church & Graveyard which our young Engineer has been tasked with dismantling and digging up), of the characters and the ongoing action are so vivid. I saw each scene very clearly and I fell in love with how easy it was to grasp the world that the book created.
- The beginning did throw me off a little. It was hard for me to think of something substantial to write here, but I found that when reading the start of the book it took me a couple of chapters to get into it. I was thrown quite literally into the Engineer's life and knew absolutely nothing about him, where he was, why he was there. It was of course, all revealed in the next chapter but it did leave me slightly confused to begin with.
- I want to read more! That might, to most, not seem like a bad thing but like the beginning, I felt the ending was a little abrupt. Yes, the characters were each given resolution and were ready to move on with the rest of their lives, it wasn't a bad ending. I'm just a little upset that there isn't a planned sequel (as of yet) because I would love to revisit the world that Miller has so masterfully built again. It would have been great if this book was a little longer!
Despite the rocky start, I loved this book and it has definitely become a favourite of mine that I would gladly read again. Miller's style is just a joy to read and easy to get into. The book is broken up nicely and I was transfixed by each character, each situation. It is definitely worth a read, particularly if Historical Fiction is something that you enjoy. The subject, though horrifying is also fascinating. A wonderful little novel!