Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Dark on the Other Side

The Dark on the Other Side, by Barbara Michaels

Ever since I learned that Elizabeth Peters also wrote (writes?) books under another pen-name (Barbara Michaels)-- and that they're gothic novels / mysteries-- I've been wanting to read one or two.  Looks like my first choice was a poor one, though.  I knew before I'd gotten far into the book that it hadn't received (many) glowing reviews on Amazon, but I wanted to stick with it, and so I did.

  • The story draggs in spots.  
  • The heroine feels a little odd and unsympathetic... She acts like a spoiled brat part of the time (earlier in the novel), then she's too perfect later on.  (The too-perfect aspect is likely a common result of the reader having to see her through her new lover-boy's eyes all of the time.  Yuck.) 
  • The ending "crisis scene" falls disappointingly flat. 
  • There's no clear resolution to the main question of the novel.  You have to decide for yourself whether or not everything in the novel has a (relatively) normal, logical explanation. Now, this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.  I knew from the reviews I peeked at that there would be no solid answers, but I still can't quite bring myself to say, "Yeah, bold move, making the reader decide!"  I am a lazy reader (today, at least).  I would have preferred answers.

  • You want a creepy atmosphere in a gothic novel, and this delivers the aura of gloom and doom.  Up until near the end, it reminded me a lot of eerie movies from the late 60's and early 70's-- Rosemary's Baby and the like.  However, not many really scary/unsettling things happen "before the reader's eyes", so to speak.  Most of them are related by a character long after they've taken place.  Still, there's atmosphere.
  • Um... I'm having trouble coming up with more positives, but it really wasn't that bad... I guess I can say I liked Galen.  (He was probably the most interesting character in the novel.)
  • The villain was also (creepily) intriguing (though that diminishes somewhat over the course of the novel). 

Overall, I give it a solid rating of "Meh".  ;o)  It could have been better, but I'll give Barbara Michaels another try, one of these days.