You’ll enjoy this book if you watch these:
Genre: fantasy fiction
Author: Dana Chamblee Carpenter
Recommended for: readers who are interested in magic, medieval fiction, adventure with a hint of romance, or the Church in medieval times.
NOT recommended for: readers who can get grossed out by blood, are sensitive to either animal or human deaths/harm, or are afraid of the dark/demons. If you do read this, be prepared to skim through a couple scenes as needed.
“An Arkansas native, Carpenter received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi. Though initially lured by the pragmatic academic world, Carpenter secretly nurtured her dream of writing stories, and, once the dust had settled on the dissertation, she gave herself over to what she’d known since she was a child–she was meant to be a storyteller. She currently teaches creative writing and American Literature at a university in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her husband and two children, who are desperately trying to turn the house into a model of Luna Lovegood’s eccentric home with glass beads and bells and little figures nestled into every nook and cranny. Hopefully there aren’t any exploding dragon horns.” –taken from Amazon author bio
“She knew the potency of blood in a spell . . . If the witch did soak up the year’s darkness to let a person’s light shine bright and strong, what would happen if a person had no light?”
Bohemian Gospel begins with an odd girl named Mouse and the young King Ottakar of Bohemia who has been injured. Mouse, who has been trained in the monastery in the art of healing, treats the King and nurtures him back to health. When Ottakar takes Mouse as his ward to accompany him and his men back to the castle, he begins to question Mouse’s origins. She had been left at the doors of the monastery with no clue as to her parents’ identity except for a jeweled bracelet. Only her mentor Father Lucas knows who her parents are–information he withholds from her. Due to several instances that force Mouse’s hand/tongue, she discovers she has magic powers. Mouse always knew she was different. She could remember her birth, hear sound from far away, and see people’s souls (except hers, which she does not have). She is also haunted by creepy spirit children, as well as other demons later that are drawn to her use of power.
Living as Ottakar’s ward, “Lady Emma,” Mouse and Ottakar slowly fall in love. The problem: as far as they know, Mouse is not of noble birth; also, she is torn between her duty to protect the world from evil and her desire to stay with Ottakar to live a normal life. Her gifts become a curse, as she struggles to avoid the rumors of being called a witch and to be at peace with using her power, which causes both good and bad events to occur.
WARNING: spoilers ahead!
My thoughts on the story:
My struggle to read this book was the character names. I should have anticipated confusion, when I came across the page for the list of characters at the beginning of the book. Since only maybe two names are normal, I was forced to keep a bookmark in the character list to figure out who everyone was for the majority of the book. All the names are basically random combinations of letters that create a name hard to pronounce. When every name is a mental slur, it’s difficult to differentiate the characters.
Other than the names and the horrid deaths of both animals and humans (yes, there are tears in this book), I did enjoy the story. At first, I was a little creeped out by the hollow-eyed “children” and avoided reading this book right before going to sleep.
The first fifty pages or so were slow, but only because of basic plot setup. The first chapter begins with action: the young king has been shot and is dying. From there, strange things occur that leave you wanting to find out the answer. I had to know about Mouse’s family. And I was most intrigued to know why Father Lucas is so afraid of her using her power. The whole time, I was cheering for her to keep using her power to save Ottakar and do more awesome stuff. But in the back of my mind, I wondered why she didn’t. Could she use her powers without paying a price? I’m a big Once Upon a Time fan, and I couldn’t help but see her as Emma Swan (Lady Emma?! yeah…) as the dark one trying not to succumb to the darkness. For whatever reason, there’s always a boundary between light and dark magic, and of course, magic always comes with a price. <insert Rumpelstiltskin’s hand flair>
The ending was a disappointment. I kept waiting for something big to happen. The one big thing that does happen (her accidentally killing everyone in a battle) happened so quickly, and then it was over. What was the point? And did she not even attempt to bring them all back to life? The battle itself was very sudden and unnecessary.
What I did like was the beginning and some towards the end of the book, the main character Mouse and her voice, and the honesty of the writing that doesn’t shy away from any details. But by the end of the book, I felt unsatisfied. I couldn’t say what the story’s real plot was–it’s purpose. The last page was interesting and did make me interested in reading book two whenever it releases. (Mouse meets her father the Devil in the last few lines before the epilogue skips to modern present day). That was a slightly foreseen outcome, yet still a good turn to the story. I’m not sure what to expect from book two, but I have a feeling it will be better.
“It starts, ‘In the beginning.'”
Despite having had several negative feelings toward this book, I am still giving it a 3.5 star rating. The writing quality itself is vivid and non-cliche. It’s a well-written book that just needs more distinct/normal names and a tighter plot.
Please share this post with your friends and don’t forget to come back next Tuesday for more! Next week, I will discuss my own recent developments as a writer and the next steps I’m taking toward building a platform.
Comment below if you have any book suggestions for future reviews!