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Saturday, February 14, 2009

“The Ghost's Child” by Sonya Hartnett (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Official Sonya Hartnett Wikipedia Website
Order “The Ghost's Child
HERE (US) + HERE (UK-May 2008)
Read An Excerpt
HERE
Read Reviews via
The Bookbag + The Guardian

What would you do to keep the love of your life happy? How far would you go to get the answers from that love to the questions that you wanted to ask but were never able to? In an almost poetic tone, Sonya Harnett asks these questions and many more about love in “The Ghost's Child”…

One day an elderly lady named Maddy is visited by a mysterious child. While talking with the child Maddy begins to reminisce about her life and what she has accomplished. Here, the narrative switches between Maddy’s present conversations with the mysterious child and Maddy’s flashbacks including a voyage to the ends of the earth to see the most beautiful things in the world, helping soldiers in a time of war, and many other struggles and victories she has experienced. Inevitably, the conversation turns to her one true love who Maddy has never forgotten all these decades and the journey she went on in search of the love that left her and answers to the questions that have weighed heavily on her mind for years…

For those unfamiliar with Sonya Harnett's writing style, imagine a poem, one that is written so smoothly that it puts you in a dream-like state. Only instead of being a page long this poem is a 176-page novel. And like a poem, almost everything in the book is written in metaphor. For instance, there's the love of her life that is described as a bird and small creatures that help and talk to Maddy as if they are acting as her conscience. Very few authors can pull off this kind of writing style and still keep the reader's attention. Harnett does this beautifully and as a reader you really feel for Maddy and want to know what happens next while simultaneously wondering what happened in her past to bring her to this point. While not strictly a mystery, “The Ghost’s Child” does possess a slightly mysterious feel to it in that you don't really know what is going to happen.

Although this writing style is really rare and beautiful, the book may not get the readership that it deserves. For one, I noticed that “The Ghost’s Child” is marketed to the young adult crowd. The topic of the book however, is something that very few teens or even people in their early 20s are going to relate to. “The Ghost’s Child” is a deep book with a lot of symbolism that could completely fly over some peoples’ heads. In fact, there were parts of the book that I myself—in my mid-20s—found hard to follow. For this reason, I feel that some readers might find “The Ghost’s Child” dry and dull unless you can relate to the subject matter.

Due to the book’s unique style of writing, there is a major weakness—the amount of time it takes for anything to happen. Basically, pages and pages of the book are devoted to descriptions which may be elegantly worded, but prevent the novel from moving at a quick pace. In other words, “The Ghost’s Child” isn't a book that you can breeze through and really understand its message. As far as action, there is a short fight between two sea creatures, but it lasts maybe a page and half.

In the end, while “The Ghost’s Child” isn't a book that I would normally gravitate to, I found that it was a treat to read. Granted, I couldn't read quickly through the book, and because of the topic’s nature I felt that I was missing something due to my lack of personal experience. But putting that aside, the poetic writing and great descriptions in “The Ghost’s Child” made up for the book’s slow moving pace and being unable to connect personally with the subject matter.

From the outside, “The Ghost’s Child” may appear to be a small book, but don’t let its size fool you. Sonya Hartnett’s novel carries a huge message and story…

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

love the 1st cover...

the epic rat said...

Thanks for the review! This book sounds really fascinating and something that I would definitely be interested in reading! I like the cover best as well...

cecilia

Cindy said...

You're welcome! It was a really beautiful book to read and not something that I would normally have read but it was worth it to say that I have read it. :)

Anonymous said...

"Basically, pages and pages of the book are devoted to descriptions which may be elegantly worded, but prevent the novel from moving at a quick pace. In other words, “The Ghost’s Child” isn't a book that you can breeze through and really understand its message."

Perhaps i'm an exception, but i didn't feel like this was true; there is a lot of description, but i didn't feel as though it weighted the book down or made it a slower read. I read it in under a day, but i felt the meaning of the book intensely. I do agree that it might not receive adequate attention, but Sonya Hartnett admitted that she wasn't writing for a particular age-group, but rather for herself. So if teens like myself aren't interested, that's quite alright. Good review nonetheless, it was interesting to read another's thoughts on the book.

Anonymous said...

this is my favourite book of all time. i like most of the covers, but especially the red one.

Darla D said...

I just finished this one and enjoyed it very much. As you say, it's very poetic - and it's also very powerful. Nice review!

Cindy said...

Good points! I didn't know about her writing for herself more then teens. I just went based off of the book being in the YA section of the library/book store compared to the adult.

Anonymous said...

dude this book is one of the best books i ever started readin found it at the libary read the first 4 pages just as i picked it up definetly a good choice

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