Friday, July 5, 2013

By the Light of a DARK MOON

  On rare occasions, at the beginning of a novel, I find myself slightly confused. Most often this happens when too many points of view are introduced far too close together without enough 'story' to hold the character firmly in mind. Stephen King, in his novel "The Stand", introduced lots of character points of view but he gave a solid chapter to introduce each one, allowing the reader to fully identify with the character. Often though, if you stick with the novel, you see the strands pull together for a satisfying if not a wonderful read.  Today's choice, "Dark Moon" by Maggie Tideswell, was one that I was glad I went back to read. When all is said and done, the strands of each character weave together to make a picturesque tapestry of the story.

Occult Drama
From Barnes and Noble:


A spellbinding novel of love, murder, and the supernatural. Chance meetings can have far-reaching effects. Loved ones may not be who they seem. The line between comprehension and confusion is thin ~ particularly when one's thoughts are being manipulated by another. In Dark Moon, the eternal triangle takes an innovative twist into the occult as dark magic fights against those who serve the Light.
The prize? A woman's soul.

About the book:
     Storm Fenton is dating a man who has been the perfect gentleman, too much of a gentleman in fact. Storm, being a virgin herself, understands being slow to begin an intimate relationship. But Storm really likes, maybe even loves Trevor, and wants to take their relationship to the next level.  When Trevor finally proposes, though, Storm believes she can't accept. A horrible incident on the beach has left her less than whole and enamored with a man whose name she does not know. Confused by all of this, Storm can't make up her mind about what she needs to do- especially now that she is pregnant with a stranger's child.
     Elle, the only woman to escape the Cape Town murderer, meets a woman, Sybil, who claims to be a witch AND claims to be her mother though Elle never thought she was adopted. Sybil assures her that not only does she have a brother but he is the Cape Town rapist putting Elle in grave danger. Where does Sybil fit in to all that is happening around Elle?
     Elle, determined to find out who the murderer is, seeks the help of a local psychologist who just happens to be Storm Fenton. Elle shows her a picture and yes,Trevor does look like the sketch of the murderer but he can't possible be that man, could he? Surely everyone must be wrong.
     Behind the scenes, a struggle between good and evil forces is playing out. What does Trevor gain from dating Storm? Why is Sybil so sure Trevor is the rapist? What power is Trevor after and how will Sybil stop him? Finally what is the role of the man on the beach in all of this?

My take:
     Dark Storm begins with too many short character introductions, never giving the reader time to 'latch onto'  or to identify with one of them immediately.  Thankfully, as the novel unfolds, the characters become more  formed allowing the reader to find a character to champion or identify with, allowing the story to come through perfectly. For me, it was the man on the beach I found myself championing. I understood him, I felt for him, and I rooted for him to win above all else. I'm sure others will find their favorite, be it the strong, caring roommate Donna, the gentle Storm, the hard hitting Elle, or even the witch Sybil.
     The writing in this debut novel is free of errors and is especially free of continuity errors, a particularly difficult task when dealing with so many characters. It makes the book an easy read.The unique South African dialect is fun to explore and is one of the things I liked best about this novel. While the plot is predictable (aren't most romances?), the subplots intertwine in a much less predictable way. The actual dialogue structure is a bit weak but not flawed.

Recommendation: If you like a good love story, particularly Romance type stories with a dash of the occult thrown in, this novel will not disappoint. There is very little in the way of foul language and the action is not graphic. A clean read almost anyone can find interesting.

On Another Note:
     In many reviews I've seen, the writer of the review complains about 'head hopping'.  This comes from one of two things - either from a reviewer who wants to read the story from one person's point of view even if it is not written in first person or from a poorly executed omniscient narrator point of view. Point of view can be an extremely difficult area for an unseasoned writer and not all that easy for a seasoned one.  I read a passage that someone had suggested was an example of 'head hopping' because the narrator told us what each person in the room was thinking or feeling sometime during the course of the passage.  Meanwhile I was reading a novel by a great writer where he described what one man was thinking, one man was feeling and one man was planning ALL in ONE sentence. So, the idea that there is such a thing as 'head hopping' and it is something a great writer never does is not strictly true.  One wants to avoid a poorly crafted omniscient point of view and if a writer cannot execute it well, they should move back to a single point of view or, at best, points of view from only a couple of characters.

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