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on Aug. 12, 2012 :
The story begins with Thomas O’Brien on a desperate mission to ransom his lady Mary from the O’Malleys, a brutal band of brothers using Mary as collateral for a loan. It’s told with conviction, a clear direction, and a steady pace, which leaves little room for surprises.Very quickly, there are hints Mary is no ordinary damsel. Too quickly. It raises expectations too early, which, even at the height of the drama, are never quite surpassed.
There were genuine moments of tension along the way, little moments of uncertainty and dread where I feared right along with Thomas, and I enjoyed the moments where his God-fearing personality came out. Yet, at other times, I wanted to shake him out of his passivity. It’s understandable that Thomas would be rendered dumbstruck by some of the incredible occurences, due to the time period, but he seemed timid, lacking initiative or at the very least a visceral need to protect his “spring flower” from immediate harm. It made me wonder what kind of a person he was outside this series of events—we’re treated to only one memory of him and Mary going for a stroll—and that left me feeling like he was more a vehicle for the plot and less a fully-rendered person with a history.
Similarly, Mary and the mysterious Samaritan wanted for a dash of uniqueness. We learn they share an unusual secret, but there’s not much else to sympathize with. They fulfill their roles as do the O’Malley’s, and by the end their motives are clear, but they simply did not make much of an impression on me.
While the characters were a little lukewarm, and the plot fairly predictable, the Old West setting provided the right amount of appeal, atmosphere, and immersion throughout, employed well as a contrast to the main conflict and mystery. The resolution didn’t offer much of an explanation for what had occurred, which may be unsatisfactory for readers unfamiliar with genre tropes, but I thought it was fitting and could fill in the blanks of the questions left unanswered.
Yes, there are problems with the writing—tedious in some places and numerous errors in others—but on the whole, it made for a light and easy read.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on May 30, 2012 :
This is a nice little story. It was an interesting read that had a pretty constant pace. The characters were believable, as was the setting. As it's written from someone from that time's point of view, there is an appropriate amount of confusion when he's confronted by technologies he doesn't understand. The action is smooth, the villians are just the right amount of disturbing to make you dislike them. All in all, a really well put together story.
That said, in the end when Mary is explaining things, the references are so vague that I couldn't piece together just who they were. Yes, the references in regards to the book she was reading and her abilities hint at one thing, but there's not enough definition given to give a solid answer. I know that due to the time period the main character lives in, his understanding would be limited. However, there would have been other ways to perhaps give a little more information to the readers without compromising that character.
Overall, a good short story, one that I would love to see more of to discover more about the characters involved. The mystery of the weird west was captured perfectly, as was the brutality of the wild west. If you are a fan of the genre, pick this one up. It's worth the read and a steal at its price.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Oct. 15, 2011 :
Good Book Alert Review
In the year 1895, Thomas O’Brien is a young man caught up with the wrong “people” and trying to make sense of things going on around him. His best friend, Nate, secretly borrows money from the O’Malley brothers to help their feed store. When he doesn’t pay it back, they are attacked. The woman Thomas loves, Mary, is kidnapped by the evil group of brothers.
I found this story to be a unique and interesting read because it blends science fiction with a western setting. Here is another author who has great skill with description and word usage that puts the reader right into the era. He also hooked me into caring about Mary, which upped the tension of Thomas’ fight to save her from the dreaded O’Malley brothers. At the same time, he struggles to comprehend the supernatural things happening around him.
I enjoyed the way the author slowly brought in hints that this is not an ordinary brush with criminals. About halfway through, I couldn’t put it down. This is a character story that asks the question “How does a man of the late 1800’s cope with the extraordinary and possibility alien happenings?” He’s a man who has never even seen a television, but at best has only read one or two early science fiction stories. How does he comprehend these happenings?
As the story rolls along, questions come up about Mary and her friend Charles who helps them. Charles is the mysterious man on the cover. I can’t say too much about this without causing a spoiler, but some of the questions I had were only answered vaguely at the conclusion. I would’ve liked to see a few more explanations – perhaps by switching to Mary’s viewpoint.
However, I still found the story intriguing and enjoyable. Since it’s a novelette, it maintains a focus on what Thomas considers to be the most important, despite his confusion and while the ending didn’t answer all the questions, it was also somewhat inspirational. I highly recommend this novelette.
(reviewed the day of purchase)